Pitt Meadows Mayor Bill Dingwall wants to hire two full-time firefighters. (THE NEWS/files)

Pitt Meadows Mayor Bill Dingwall wants to hire two full-time firefighters. (THE NEWS/files)

Pitt Meadows to talk firefighters

Meeting is Monday at city hall, 7-9 p.m.

Pitt Meadows residents will hear Monday that their on-call firefighters attend fewer medical emergency calls than fire departments in other cities.

However, the union that represents paramedics says ambulance response times have improved across the Lower Mainland with staffing increases and other efficiencies.

And union president Cameron Eby says Pitt Meadows residents can expect faster response times with a rest-and-ready ambulance station that’s coming to the city.

The special meeting is set for Monday at 7-9 p.m. at city hall, and will be a presentation by Pitt Meadows Fire and Rescue to offer facts about the department’s paid-on-call model, call volume, major incidents and medical call responses and current challenges.

A question-and-answer period will follow the presentation.

New Mayor Bill Dingwall has been a proponent of hiring two new full-time firefighters, at a cost of about $250,000 per year, and increasing the number of medical emergencies the department attends. There are currently five full-time members and 35 paid-on-call.

Dingwall said Pitt Meadows was compared with eight other cities in the 2016 Summary Report on Fire Rescue Services. That report found the paid-on-call staffing model works well, results in excellent response times, excellent turnout at calls, and low operating costs – an estimated one-third of what it would cost to run a career staffed department.

However, Dingwall said one of the revelations on Monday will be that the local department responds to fewer medical emergencies than the other cities in the study, based on service levels set by city hall.

Paramedics do respond to all medical emergencies.

Eby, president of CUPE 873, said in the most serious calls, where a life is in danger and seconds count, it is an obvious benefit to have firefighters responding. These are situations where a firefighter can do CPR, use a defibrillator, stop a significant bleed, or clear an airway and offer rescue breathing, he added.

“First responders have a role, for sure, if they can get there faster than the paramedics,” he said, adding that in most cities firefighters do have faster response times than paramedics because there are more of them, and more fire halls.

He said life-threatening emergencies represent about two per cent of all calls in Pitt Meadows.

For the other 98 per cent of calls, Eby said patient outcomes may not be improved by a firefighter arriving minutes ahead of a paramedic.

“If there’s a concern that there’s a delay in getting to those patients in the Pitt Meadows area … then we need to address that by looking at the staffing levels for paramedics,” he said. “They [the provincial government] have added staffing, and it certainly helps.”

In 2016, the province added another ambulance in Maple Ridge and Coquitlam as part of its province-wide paramedic staffing increase.

Eby added that fast firefighter responses are absolutely necessary for rescue situations, hazardous materials calls and vehicle extrication.

He said B.C. Ambulance now has some of the best response times for immediately life-threatening calls in the country.

Eby said the new rest-and-ready stop is like a satellite ambulance station. He works in one in Comox and said it will help Pitt Meadows ambulance service, with ambulances in the community and responding more rapidly.

“I would confidently say that, yes, that means there is going to be better response times.”

He also pointed out that the difference in the level of medical training between firefighters and paramedics is considerable. While most firefighters get a one-week course in emergency medical response, paramedics at the first level, primary, get a year of schooling, and that will be increasing to two years in 2019. Advanced care paramedics now take three years of training, and that will increase to four.

Eby said there is a balance to be struck between what cities can afford, and the value of increasing service levels. Some municipalities have firefighters attend medical emergencies simply because they already have career firefighters on duty.

“We have to look at the evidence, and that includes patient outcomes.”

Dingwall said there will also be other issues explored, such as attracting and retaining firefighters, and coverage of the city during times when paid on-call firefighters are outside of the community.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Have an opinion you’d like to share? Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or the postal service. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Maple Ridge resident impressed with frontline workers when husband hurt

From police to health professionals, everyone who cared for injured senior deserves praise

Residents of Golf Lane say they are tired of their houses and vehicles being hit by golf balls from the nearby Maple Ridge Golf Course, and worry someone is going to get killed by a wayward drive. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Maple Ridge Golf Course neighbours say they need protection

City willing to explore solutions says director of parks

Former Pitt Meadows city councillor David Murray was convicted of sex assault, and is now being sued by the victim. (files)
Former Pitt Meadows city councillor sued for sex assault

David Murray was convicted in 2017 of sexually assaulting a teen 25 years earlier

Ineke Boekhorst with the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association says Sparkle has been a huge hit with downtown businesses. (The News files)
Maple Ridge business to get free Earth Day window cleaning

Event put on by the Downtown Maple Ridge BIA and Christian Life Assembly

Allen, Mel, and Trevor Leung pose on the Whitecaps field in Vancouver. (Special to The News)
Community rallies to support Maple Ridge man suffering from paralysis, kidney issues

GoFundMe set up to help Allen Leung and his family during difficult times

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Nick Warmerdam and his dog Diesel are inviting locals to check out the Lakeland Farm U-pick Flower Farm this spring. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
VIDEO & SLIDESHOW: Abbotsford’s Lakeland Flowers opens for spring

Tulip farm attraction opened on April 14, open to the public daily seven days a week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

The female driver of this Jeep Grand Cherokee (right) was driving erratically with a young child inside on Highway 1 eastbound. After hitting a barrier and a parked car, she finally exited the highway at Yale Road West and came to a stop. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Video captures woman driving erratically with child after hitting barrier, car on Hwy 1 in Chilliwack

Smoke seen coming from SUV as it continues to travel eastbound of shoulder of highway

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Most Read