Langley City is calling on all B.C. municipalities to join a call to better coordinate ambulance and fire services.
As drafted by Councillor Gayle Martin, the push for better “pre-hospital care” is a demand for “concrete actions” to address “unreasonable delays” in ambulance response times during the June heat wave that claimed an estimated 719 lives, many of them seniors.
Martin’s motion wants the provincial government and BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) to allocate funding to improve response times and coordination between ambulance and fire crews, who are often sent to medical assistance calls.
It calls for consistent application of medical standards, information sharing, and an integrated dispatch system along with other improvements that were recommended in a 2019 report on access to emergency services which found BCEHS needs to work more closely with fire departments.
Martin said the province and BCEHS must treat first responders “as an equal and an integral partner of the pre-hospital care system with adequate support … and resources.”
Martin’s motion was unanimously endorsed by council at the July 26 meeting.
Coun. Rosemary Wallace called it “a very important, essential motion.”
“The amount of lives being jeopardized or lost because of this [lack of resources] is extensive,” Wallace remarked.
Coun. Nathan Pachal called the tragic deaths during the heat wave “entirely preventable.”
“We have a fire service, and an ambulance service, and both of them need to collaborate,” Pachal commented.
Coun. Rudy Storteboom noted the issue is something that council has been thinking about for a “good long time.”
“I think it is important that we stay on top of this,” Storteboom recommended.
Mayor Val van den Boek agreed that “we have to do better, absolutely,” and noted the Union of B.C. Municipalities has been pressing for improvements, as well.
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The call comes after the province announced it would fund more full-time paramedics and dispatchers in the wake of complaints about delayed response times during the heat wave.
It is also being forwarded to Premier John Horgan, Heath Minister Minister Adrian Dix, and Susan Wannamaker, executive vice president, clinical service delivery in the Provincial Health Services Authority.
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