Letters: Pitt Meadows fire service limited

Port Coquitlam firefighters thankful arms was saved.

Editor, The News:

My name is Chad Evans, I have lived in Pitt Meadows for almost nine years and work in Port Coquitlam as a firefighter. I work and train hard in hope that I can make a positive difference in people’s lives every day.

Six weeks ago, an accident with a circular saw at home made me the patient. The blade broke off and deeply cut into my arm above the elbow, hitting an artery.

The bleeding was quick and extensive.

My wife called 911, then helped apply pressure to the wound in an attempt to try to slow the bleed. But it wouldn’t stop.  I can’t explain the fear and helplessness of myself and my wife contemplating this possible fatal injury, in front of my children.

Ambulance crews arrived quickly and I can not express my appreciation for their professionalism. The ambulance crew and specialized advanced life support crew worked hard to stop the bleeding with limited success. They realized quickly that I was in danger of losing my arm, and potentially my life, as I was close to losing consciousness.

They decided to wait for the arrival of the fire department to assist moving me onto the stretcher.

They repeatedly called their dispatcher to get an update on their arrival, but were eventually told that the fire department had not been dispatched. The ambulance crews were stunned and asked for fire to respond.

After waiting for several more minutes, the ambulance crews decided they could not wait any longer and were forced to make an alternative plan to load me into the ambulance.

The fire department arrived after I was in the ambulance, and after the arrival of the advanced life support crew coming from Port Coquitlam.

B.C. ambulance transported me to Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster because it is the closest hospital prepared to deal with this level of trauma. I lost consciousness in the ambulance.

At the hospital, I was rushed into the trauma unit, where they were able to stop the bleed and save my life.

Then, I underwent surgery to repair the extensive damage to my arm.

I am thankful to the doctors and nurses at RCH for saving my life, as well as my arm. I am now faced with a long recovery process – at least six months to two years.

I am very troubled with the direction of our fire department.  I am friends with several members and know how hard they train, and how dedicated they are to helping their community. I know how frustrated they are with not being dispatched to life-threatening medical incidents, like I experienced.

My tax dollars go to train these members as first responders and in how to deal with deadly bleeding. This accident occurred on a fire department training night and with my home being only blocks from the fire station.

I was fortunate that ambulance crews were in the area that night – but am grossly aware that this is not necessarily typical of the response time from B.C. Ambulance.

There is no doubt that lives are being impacted and lives are possibly being lost due to the limited response from our fire department.

I have recently learned that the department is further reducing its response levels to medical incidents and fire incidents. This is deeply disturbing and inconceivably happening without any public consultation.

Pitt Meadows is a dynamic and growing municipality, it is unbelievable that we do not have a guaranteed response level from the fire department.

Every neighboring municipality in the Lower Mainland out to and including Chilliwack provides their residents and businesses a safer and more reliable level of service.

This must change.

I want council and Pitt Meadows fire to make public a list of call types that crews respond to, so the public is aware of exactly what service our fire department provides.

Chad Evans

Pitt Meadows