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Tensions easing between firefighters and paramedics over PoCo 9-1-1 protocol

(Source: iStock)

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — B.C.’s Labour Minister is pleased tensions between paramedics and firefighters have eased now that Port Coquitlam’s protocol for medical emergencies at city facilities doesn’t pit frontline workers against each other.

The city’s new protocol for handling medical emergencies rolled out earlier this week — staff are now being told to make two calls, first to ask for an ambulance, and second to ask for fire and rescue.

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Harry Bains says the priority is to ensure everyone calling 911 gets the help they need.

“It is to help those who need help and I think that those areas and those discussions will continue if there’s any confusion. I think I’ll leave it to those organizations and if they need some help from my ministry, I’m willing to sit down and work with them.”

Cameron Eby, president of the union representing 911 dispatchers and paramedics — Ambulance Paramedics of British Columbia, CUPE 873 — says the new protocol is much less confusing.

“911 callers need to, first and foremost, ask for the ambulance, so they receive the proper triage on the phone and most importantly, the proper life-saving interventions over the phone like CPR and choking aversion,” he says.

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The changes comes after Port Coquitlam’s’ Fire Chief Nick Delmonico sent out a controversial memo last month telling city staff to ask for the fire department rather than ambulance when calling 911 for medical emergencies.

Now, Delmonico calls the new protocol a ‘win-win solution.’

“Our primary concern has always been to ensure that our staff are supported and that our residents are provided with a prompt medical response and the highest quality of care,” he said in a press release. “We’re committed to working collaboratively to achieve that.”

The memo had been originally sent out to staff asking that they request the fire department to respond to calls about medical emergencies first, rather than paramedics.

– With files from Lauren Boothby