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Port Alberni fire department is duplicating services

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Port Alberni fire department is duplicating services

Post by The Invisible Man on Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:01 pm

With the high cost of Port Alberni's fire department in mind, why do fire fighters provide first response medical treatment when BC Ambulance provides the same (or better) service? From a local taxpayer's perspective, it is better if BC Ambulance provides first response services because their costs are paid through the provincial government. I think the fire department should stop stepping on paramedic's toes and stick to fire fighting. Local politicians complain about the provincial government offloading responsibility onto municipal governments yet they are in favour of the local fire department taking on this responsibility? What gives?
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Re: Port Alberni fire department is duplicating services

Post by AlberniLove on Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:34 am

The Invisible Man wrote:With the high cost of Port Alberni's fire department in mind, why do fire fighters provide first response medical treatment when BC Ambulance provides the same (or better) service? From a local taxpayer's perspective, it is better if BC Ambulance provides first response services because their costs are paid through the provincial government. I think the fire department should stop stepping on paramedic's toes and stick to fire fighting. Local politicians complain about the provincial government offloading responsibility onto municipal governments yet they are in favour of the local fire department taking on this responsibility? What gives?

Okay so I'm not 100% on all of this but I will share what I've learned.

The first responder (FR) medical service that the firefighters provide, while it is much more basic than what paramedics provide is still very critical. FR services are offered all over BC in small and large cities. In my opinion, and many others, first responder services are much more crucial in small towns. The reason for this being, in large cities there are more ambulances on duty and they have enough that they can move them around from a less busy area to a busy area to cover services so that they don't have very long response times -due to this, FR is not as effective in large cities. However, it always helps to send everything you have to help someone. You must remember that someone is calling 911 because they are scared for their life, and feel like they are in compromised health position and possibly going to die. So sometimes the fire department can get there sooner and bring peace of mind, or actually begin CPR/defib while the paramedics are on their way. To put it in perspective, if someone goes into cardiac arrest, if you have a defibrillator on them right away and shock them, they have around a 95% chance of survival. Every minute that it takes for defibrillation to occur, their survival rate decreases by 10%. So at 10 minutes, there aren't any drugs that will bring that person back, sadly. So firefighters are able to step in and get there quickly. While this doesn't seem important, it is very in small towns like PA. Seeing as only one ambulance is staffed 24/7, if it goes out on a call and another comes in (say cardiac arrest) the firefighters will be paged and will respond to that call. And in all seriousness, in PA and towns a like with one staffed ambulance, if that ambulance is out on a call, the firefighters are your only chance of living. By the time the paramedics get to the station and get in the ambulance and get to your house you will be far gone. It makes sense for PA to continue this because they are the majority of calls and all it takes is to save one life and it is worth it (my opinion). It doesn't cost a whole lot of money to run a first responder program seeing as the majority of the cost is wages and apparatus which is already paid for because they're on duty all the time. The firefighters aren't stepping on the paramedics toes, there is a lot of respect between both groups of emergency workers and they work as a team.

While the provincial gov is contemplating dismantling the provincial wide ambulance service, they're not off loading any services to the individual towns/cities. Fire departments do not transport victims, they mainly assist paramedics and offer additional assistance. It's pretty hard to do CPR, administer drugs, call the doctor, maintain an airway, suction, etc while being driven to the hospital, which is where the firefighters step in and do CPR, maintain an airway, and anything else the paramedic needs.

Overall, if PA gives up the FR program then they're getting even less of a bang for their buck. They have the staff there already, and the vehicles, might as well run a few extra calls where they can make a difference.

Oh, and if they do cut the FR program, it won't save any money because now you could say all they deal with are car accidents and fires. There can't be any personnel lay offs because they have to have 4 firefighters on in order to go inside a burning building. So if you're going to cut down to 3 firefighters, you might as well cut down to 2. They can't do anymore with 3 than they can with 2.

I believe people need to stop complaining about the fire department. Everyone gets fairly good value for their money...you can't make more emergencies happen. Emergency services are more essential than politicians. I'd like to see people see the light and think about it. Most of the people that want the fire department cut have not needed their assistance. I guarantee that will change as soon as they do.

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Re: Port Alberni fire department is duplicating services

Post by Jimmy Sx on Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:39 am

AlberniLove wrote:
The Invisible Man wrote:With the high cost of Port Alberni's fire department in mind, why do fire fighters provide first response medical treatment when BC Ambulance provides the same (or better) service? From a local taxpayer's perspective, it is better if BC Ambulance provides first response services because their costs are paid through the provincial government. I think the fire department should stop stepping on paramedic's toes and stick to fire fighting. Local politicians complain about the provincial government offloading responsibility onto municipal governments yet they are in favour of the local fire department taking on this responsibility? What gives?

Okay so I'm not 100% on all of this but I will share what I've learned.

The first responder (FR) medical service that the firefighters provide, while it is much more basic than what paramedics provide is still very critical. FR services are offered all over BC in small and large cities. In my opinion, and many others, first responder services are much more crucial in small towns. The reason for this being, in large cities there are more ambulances on duty and they have enough that they can move them around from a less busy area to a busy area to cover services so that they don't have very long response times -due to this, FR is not as effective in large cities. However, it always helps to send everything you have to help someone. You must remember that someone is calling 911 because they are scared for their life, and feel like they are in compromised health position and possibly going to die. So sometimes the fire department can get there sooner and bring peace of mind, or actually begin CPR/defib while the paramedics are on their way. To put it in perspective, if someone goes into cardiac arrest, if you have a defibrillator on them right away and shock them, they have around a 95% chance of survival. Every minute that it takes for defibrillation to occur, their survival rate decreases by 10%. So at 10 minutes, there aren't any drugs that will bring that person back, sadly. So firefighters are able to step in and get there quickly. While this doesn't seem important, it is very in small towns like PA. Seeing as only one ambulance is staffed 24/7, if it goes out on a call and another comes in (say cardiac arrest) the firefighters will be paged and will respond to that call. And in all seriousness, in PA and towns a like with one staffed ambulance, if that ambulance is out on a call, the firefighters are your only chance of living. By the time the paramedics get to the station and get in the ambulance and get to your house you will be far gone. It makes sense for PA to continue this because they are the majority of calls and all it takes is to save one life and it is worth it (my opinion). It doesn't cost a whole lot of money to run a first responder program seeing as the majority of the cost is wages and apparatus which is already paid for because they're on duty all the time. The firefighters aren't stepping on the paramedics toes, there is a lot of respect between both groups of emergency workers and they work as a team.

While the provincial gov is contemplating dismantling the provincial wide ambulance service, they're not off loading any services to the individual towns/cities. Fire departments do not transport victims, they mainly assist paramedics and offer additional assistance. It's pretty hard to do CPR, administer drugs, call the doctor, maintain an airway, suction, etc while being driven to the hospital, which is where the firefighters step in and do CPR, maintain an airway, and anything else the paramedic needs.

Overall, if PA gives up the FR program then they're getting even less of a bang for their buck. They have the staff there already, and the vehicles, might as well run a few extra calls where they can make a difference.

Oh, and if they do cut the FR program, it won't save any money because now you could say all they deal with are car accidents and fires. There can't be any personnel lay offs because they have to have 4 firefighters on in order to go inside a burning building. So if you're going to cut down to 3 firefighters, you might as well cut down to 2. They can't do anymore with 3 than they can with 2.

I believe people need to stop complaining about the fire department. Everyone gets fairly good value for their money...you can't make more emergencies happen. Emergency services are more essential than politicians. I'd like to see people see the light and think about it. Most of the people that want the fire department cut have not needed their assistance. I guarantee that will change as soon as they do.


Why not a firehall every 10 blocks, to make us even more safe? 9 firehalls and no one will die.

We can't afford the current service and we have every right to complain. If this new lessor service doesn't please you, move to where it does{bet not many move}. When the mill goes down, we will be a mini Greece, why not plan ahead and be a touch pro active?

Instead of 'sky is falling' tax the crap out of avg Joe to pay for same service.

My two bits.

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Re: Port Alberni fire department is duplicating services

Post by AlberniLove on Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:56 pm

Jimmy Sx wrote:

Why not a firehall every 10 blocks, to make us even more safe? 9 firehalls and no one will die.

We can't afford the current service and we have every right to complain. If this new lessor service doesn't please you, move to where it does{bet not many move}. When the mill goes down, we will be a mini Greece, why not plan ahead and be a touch pro active?

Instead of 'sky is falling' tax the crap out of avg Joe to pay for same service.

My two bits.

Just because it gets switched to a volunteer department doesn't mean it's going to be dirt cheap. It would probably need to be a 40 person fire department. I know that we can't afford this service, but cuts here should be made last.

I will admit that it is kinda disappointing when you look at the financial plan for the the dept and 71% of it is wages.That's down from 81% previously due to secretorial costs rising and others. The fire dept 2012-2016 plan is on the cities website, take a peek.

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Re: Port Alberni fire department is duplicating services

Post by The Invisible Man on Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:21 pm

Maybe the fire department should do a better job of explaining to taxpayers why they require such a large part of the city's budget. We don't see fires every day or every week or even every month. We do see people needing an ambulance on a regular basis. BC Ambulance has staff available 24/7 for one ambulance and also has paramedics available on-call should they need another ambulance. Almost every time I drive past the ambulance station I see at least two ambulances.

When I spoke of fire fighters stepping on paramedic's toes I didn't mean that the two did not get along. I meant that when fire fighters take on paramedic's duties and responsibilities, the government sees it as a way to reduce paramedics. That is seen by some people as stepping on paramedic's toes. The provincial government would like it if fire fighters took on paramedic services. That way they could justify the reduction of ambulance services.

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Re: Port Alberni fire department is duplicating services

Post by AlberniLove on Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:51 pm

The Invisible Man wrote:Maybe the fire department should do a better job of explaining to taxpayers why they require such a large part of the city's budget. We don't see fires every day or every week or even every month. We do see people needing an ambulance on a regular basis. BC Ambulance has staff available 24/7 for one ambulance and also has paramedics available on-call should they need another ambulance. Almost every time I drive past the ambulance station I see at least two ambulances.

When I spoke of fire fighters stepping on paramedic's toes I didn't mean that the two did not get along. I meant that when fire fighters take on paramedic's duties and responsibilities, the government sees it as a way to reduce paramedics. That is seen by some people as stepping on paramedic's toes. The provincial government would like it if fire fighters took on paramedic services. That way they could justify the reduction of ambulance services.


They need such a large portion of the budget because everything is expensive. The gear, trucks, equipment, and of course - the wages. There's really nothing to explain...that's just the way it is.

I agree that the ambulances are in high demand everywhere, not just Port. To address the whole "almost always see two ambulances" you're probably correct. Port Alberni has 4 ambulances. 1 is staffed 24/7, and the other one is a call out car. Meaning one paramedic is at the station, but the second paramedic needs to come from home or where ever else he/she may be. These two cars are in the closed door garages. The ambulance that is newer parked under the over hang in the front is a Transfer Ambulance. If it's in town sometimes it'll go to a car accident instead of the paramedics taking their normal ambulance. And the 4th is just a spare that they rotate through when the vehicles are in for oil changes and maintenance. I've seen the number of times when PA needs that second ambulance, and it's not often enough to warrant full time salary, benefits, etc. The province uses the FD's to "bridge the gap" and provide the stand in services while waiting for the paramedics to arrive.

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Re: Port Alberni fire department is duplicating services

Post by The Invisible Man on Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:54 pm

I ran into a paramedic today and asked him about BC Ambulance. He said during the day, three ambulances are available. One is a full-time crew and the other two are pager crews, one of which is dedicated as a transfer crew (they transfer patients around the island). If the transfer crew is not out on a transfer those paramedics are available for street calls in Port Alberni. At night, there is one full-time ambulance available and one pager ambulance. If both ambulances are called out, sometimes an out-of-town crew will cross over.

Sounds to me like we have adequate coverage. It would be a shame if the government reduced those services because someone else was nosing in on the paramedic's gig. The entire province kicks in to pay for paramedics. The costs for fire department services are covered by Port Alberni taxpayers only.

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Re: Port Alberni fire department is duplicating services

Post by Possum on Fri Mar 02, 2012 2:48 am

Port Alberni simply cannot afford the services of this full time fire department. They are all on the gravy train and are no better trained than any of the local volunteer units. Being Alberni Love looks like he is a fire fighter he should not get involved in any discussions about the fire hall. It's not like we would go without fire protection if it was switched to volunteer. One thing for certain it would be millions cheaper than the present bloated budget. Twisted Evil

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