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Fire chiefs concerned over proposed changes for first responders

Fire chiefs know what their services can do for a community and what rural residents require.
Fire chief

Recently, local fire departments received a letter from the manager of Medical First Responders (MFR) from Headingley Fire Department, Glenn Reimer. This letter was sent to the Empire-Advance by Fire Chief Nick Young, of the Miniota Fire Department. You can read the letter on our opinion page. Young stated he has concerns with changes that the College of Paramedics of Manitoba are proposing for the Emergency Medical Responder course. “I want to alert the residents in our area on how this will impact them in terms of the level of emergency medical care they would receive.” Young feels that the sense of security that comes with good emergency service is critical to keep rural communities vibrant.

Brad Yochim of the Wallace District Fire Department is also looking into the matter as past president of the Manitoba Association of Fire Chiefs. He states that neither Virden nor Elkhorn fire stations currently offer MFR service but said these changes “will adversely affect those communities that provide that service. I can see those communities dropping the service if the requirement for the extra training comes into effect. This would mean a longer wait for patients to access medical treatment in those communities without an ambulance. It could mean the difference between life and death in some cases.”

RM of Pipestone councillor and fire chief, Lane Wanless agrees. The council was already preparing to train members of the Reston Fire Department to MFR standards. Members trained to these standards could then add extra increments of training to achieve levels of competence in other areas. Wanless said, “We did a campaign about a year ago and we found about eight volunteers who were willing to take the training.” Now he can’t see how that would work. He says in a rural volunteer fire department most members have full time jobs and would not be able to afford the extra training time. The training was to be done in Reston by Elite Safety Service. The training for the new requirements will not be offered locally.

Late last week local fire departments received a letter from the manager of Medical First Responders (MFR) from Headingley Fire Department, Glenn Reimer. This letter was sent to the Empire-Advance by Fire Chief Nick Young, of the Miniota Fire Department. You can read the letter on our opinion page. Young stated he has concerns with changes that the College of Paramedics of Manitoba are proposing for the Emergency Medical Responder course. “I want to alert the residents in our area on how this will impact them in terms of the level of emergency medical care they would receive.” Young feels that the sense of security that comes with good emergency service is critical to keep rural communities vibrant.

Brad Yochim of the Wallace District Fire Department is also looking into the matter as past president of the Manitoba Association of Fire Chiefs. He states that neither Virden nor Elkhorn fire stations currently offer MFR service but said these changes “will adversely affect those communities that provide that service. I can see those communities dropping the service if the requirement for the extra training comes into effect. This would mean a longer wait for patients to access medical treatment in those communities without an ambulance. It could mean the difference between life and death in some cases.”

RM of Pipestone councillor and fire chief, Lane Wanless agrees. The council was already preparing to train members of the Reston Fire Department to MFR standards. Members trained to these standards could then add extra increments of training to achieve levels of competence in other areas. Wanless said, “We did a campaign about a year ago and we found about eight volunteers who were willing to take the training.” Now he can’t see how that would work. He says in a rural volunteer fire department most members have full time jobs and would not be able to afford the extra training time. The training was to be done in Reston by Elite Safety Service. The training for the new requirements will not be offered locally.