Chief Charlie Boyte's report for March 2014

Michael Boyle

By mid-February our volunteers had been called out 19 times compared to 21 calls in 2013. Based on this, I estimate emergency call volumes could reach 200-plus again this year.

Our volunteer firefighters, first responders, officers and communications people respond to these calls around the clock. It is a challenge for our members and their families to be attached to a pager 24/7. It changes their lives. It is always a challenge to decide to turn off the pager and have that glass of wine with dinner or keep it on and have coffee instead. Certainly the pager changes your pulse rate, and that of your partner, from 60 to 120 beats when it goes off at 2 a.m. If they happen to wake up the kids on the way out the door our firefighters not only face the risks inherent with the immediate emergency but also the consequences of waking the family when you come home at 3 or 4 a.m.

We are looking forward to the graduation of our new recruit class in May. The addition of seven new pager carrying members will certainly help take some load off the core group. We still have a lot of work to do to get our volunteer member roster to full strength. If you are fit and caring and would like to serve your community, please consider volunteering. PIFR provides many exciting opportunities to stay fit, learn and serve your community. If you would like to become part of this wonderful organization please give Deputy Chief Mike Dine a call at 250-537-0101 and set up an appointment.

The First Responder (FRs) program worked exceptionally well from 1995 to 2009 because FRs were generally paged out simultaneously with the BC Ambulance Service (BCAS) to all emergency medical calls. In 2009, the provincial resource allocation plan (RAP) was updated and there was a reduction in the types of medical calls that are paged out to FRs. This led to significant concerned feedback from the community.

The Emergency Health Services Commission and the BCAS have proposed a further 35 per cent reduction in the types of calls that are dispatched to Pender’s FRs. In my opinion, when fully implemented, this change will result in more situations where FRs are not advised of your 911 call.

The Penders’ committed BCAS volunteers do their absolute best to get to you in a timely manner, but the reality is that these changes will result in service gaps and longer response times. Why? There is just one ambulance on the Penders staffed by volunteers. Periodically there will be mechanical breakdowns or staffing issues that can delay or prevent the ambulance’s arrival.

As well, two BCAS attendants must drive from their homes, start the ambulance located at the clinic and then drive to your location. This can take 20 minutes or more. PIFR first responders can usually be at your door in eight to 12 minutes and in some cases faster.

Once the paramedics arrive they often discover that they need the fire department’s help to get a patient out of the building and into the ambulance. If there is joint deployment of FRs and BCAS volunteers from the get go you receive the quickest and best service possible. Under the proposed BCAS deployment model PIFR first responders may not even be advised of your 911 call because their pagers will not be activated. These changes are meant to manage the spiraling costs of medical emergencies. The reality for the Penders is that RAP changes may result in increased response times and additional gaps in service with little, if any, savings.

Please let us know if you call 911 and do not get the service you expect. Your call will help us when advising our Board of Directors and with continuing dialogue with local government officials. We will keep you advised.

Please feel free to drop me a note in confidence by email if you have any concerns, questions or comments regarding the BCAS issue. You can also get me on my cell at 250-537-0166 if you want to talk about your experience the emergency medical service on the Penders.

Please note on your calendars that burning permits are required as of April 1st. As in years past these can be obtained on this website or at Fire Hall 1.

Forest Fire Threat Level

Burning is permitted
No permit is required
Regulations apply


Val Smith

Technical Rescue

PIFR Members Only

For any Emergency:

call 911


250 629-3321


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