For the time being, firefighters will only be called to the most serious of medical emergencies — marking a change in what has been the norm since the 1980s.
Typically, firefighters are dispatched to loads of medical emergency calls. West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund said on Wednesday that a directive from B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry changed that.
Now, firefighters will only respond to the most serious calls — cardiac arrest and rescues, among them.
This means overdoses, which make up a large portion of medical calls fire departments are called out to, will often not be attended by firefighters.
Brolund assured this new directive does not change the public safety response of firefighters.
“If they phone us and they need us, whether it be for a fire or a car accident … we will come,” he said. “Dr. Henry’s order only relates to medical calls we may have been assisting the ambulance on.
“These are very strange times and we’re all getting used to the new world. Obviously, this is done to prevent the spread of COVID and to keep people safe but it’s something that we’re going to need to get used to.”