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Campbell River councillors push back on EMS downloading

Some Campbell River council members are concerned the province is downloading more medical work on the city’s fire department with no compensation.

It came up Tuesday as council reviewed the department’s risk and service levels.

Coun. Susan Sinnott suggests the fire department may have to cut back on medical service to prioritize bigger risks like wildland-urban interface fires.

“And if we don’t have the information, the data, to push up the political level and it hasn’t been successful for years then we’ve got to change the way we’re doing things…or we change the service levels we provide and force the issue, which is not great for the community in terms of medical services,” Sinnott said.

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As for those interface fires, there were 20 brush fires in the city in the last month – all started by people.

Council heard about 64 per cent of fire department’s nearly four thousand calls last year were medical responses. It’s tracking at about 61 per cent so far this year.

Coun. Ben Lanyon says BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) work is slowly being downloaded to the city.

“I have an issue with the service level of having the emergency response essentially being slowly downloaded to our fire department. Like we can continue doing that but only if we’re getting additional funding and not being the recipient of downloading. Because it’s happening in so many areas of the city, so it’s time we started pushing back on that,” Lanyon said.

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Right now, there is no system in place for the Campbell River Fire Department or any B.C. fire department to invoice BCEHS for responding to medical calls.

The fire department is also dealing with pressure of more calls for service. Fire Chief Dan Verdun told council call volume has increased 236 per cent in the last 20 years. The department is on track to respond to answer 4,000 calls this year.

Council received the fire department report for information. Armed with councillors’ comments, Verdun will bring back a service level recommendation to a future council meeting.

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