LETTERS: More explanation of emergency responses

Vice-president of B.C. Emergency Health Services writes rebuttal to letter from head of provincial firefighters' union

A recent op-ed by the provincial firefighters union president makes several claims about the provincial pre-hospital health care system that requires clarification so readers can have a balanced perspective.

To ensure that both ambulance and first responder (fire department) resources are dispatched appropriately, and the public isn’t at risk from emergency vehicles driving at high speeds unnecessarily, BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) undertook its fifth review of its Resource Allocation Plan (RAP) in 2013.

The RAP outlines which resource(s) to assign to each medical call received and how they should respond – lights and siren or routine.

Our evidence-based review found that there is no clinical benefit for patients to have first responders dispatched for several of the call types that they currently attend.

A formal consensus among EMS physicians is that only patients in cardiac or respiratory arrest, or those having total airway obstruction, benefit from a rapid ambulance response. An ambulance is still sent to every call in B.C., however, they are responding without lights and siren more often.

Ambulance dispatchers assess the patient’s condition over the phone and prioritize every call for service – people with life-threatening conditions get the fastest response with the highest trained paramedics available.

When appropriate, dispatchers notify first responders that there is a patient that would benefit from having fire fighters provide first aid as soon as possible.

This notification occurs in seconds, not minutes as stated. First responders remain able to upgrade the call if they have concerns about the ambulance response.

With these changes, ambulances are getting to critically ill or injured patients faster and those with non-life threatening conditions have been waiting only a few minutes more on average.

An EMS expert reviewed the process used to update the RAP and found that the methodology was consistent with contemporary best practices nationally and internationally, used robust clinical evidence, and is superior to the processes used in many major EMS systems.

BCEHS continues to monitor the RAP changes – which have only been implemented for ambulances so far, not first responders – on a system-wide basis and review individual calls when the response was questioned. To date there have been no negative clinical patient outcomes attributed to the RAP changes.

BCEHS greatly values the role of first responders and will continue to work on strengthening this partnership using medical evidence and facts to enhance care and service for patients.

William Dick

Vice-president, medical programs

BC Emergency Health Services


Jail costs should be public

The provincial government’s claim that the public has no right to know the details of what it will cost to build and operate the Oliver jail is pure nonsense.

The doctor/patient – lawyer/client privacy clause does not apply, because in this case we are the patient, and it is our constitutional right to know all of the intimate details, and our politicians know that.

Insisting that the spending of millions of our precious tax dollars without public scrutiny borders the bizarre.

Andy Thomsen



Nothing wrong with Pride parade

(re: Parade nothing to be proud of; Letters, Western News, July 16)

When I read the letter to the editor, “Parade nothing to be proud of,” I was so angry at this person’s narrow mind. I say, “how dare you? Your righteous God in heaven would be ashamed at how you speak of your fellow man.”

Don’t blame the gay parade for society’s foibles, worry more about your own sins or have you become so blind and complacent you can’t see the real evil in this world?

Maybe you should read the rest of the paper, I say to you Mr. Osterberg, if the parade offends you, don’t watch.”

So for we still live in free world, thankfully!

Janet Lawrence



Farmers’ Market fine the way it is

Graham Tungate proposes an interesting idea of putting all the food-related vendors in one place in the markets. The market he describes, however, is a single, and very old, one and from the name would appear to be focused on handmade and likely locally produced items.  I would like to point out that in Penticton, such a change would be conflating two separate and very different markets.

The Penticton Farmers Market, now into its 24th season and considered one of Canada’s best farmers’ markets, is run by a private society with strict standards and regulations that members must adhere to; it is the market in the 100 block of Main Street. The Community Market, which covers three blocks to the south, is run by the Downtown Penticton Association; I have no idea what standards or regulations govern its vendors, but it does appear that many of the items on sale are not locally grown, produced, or sourced.

Farmers markets are primarily places to sell locally produced farm products sold by the farmers and employees with of course the inclusion of some locally made and sold food and other products and crafts.  The focus, however, is on those terms ‘locally grown, made, and sold’.  I would not like to see the PFM weaken that important and central philosophy by including industrial-style, mass-market food products among their offerings or being part of a sort of ‘food court’ that did.

Eva Durance



Job losses expose a stalled economy

The latest job numbers offer yet more confirmation that most of the Canadian economy is stalled.

Over 9000 jobs were lost in June. Combined with the 16,000 people who entered the labour force, unemployment is up 25,000 (not including those who have given up looking for work altogether).  The economy simply isn’t creating enough jobs to keep up with demand.

And the long-term picture has been getting worse. This year’s tepid job growth is down from last year, which was down from the year before that. Overall, Stephen Harper has the worst economic growth record of any prime minister since R. B. Bennett.

Since he formed a majority government in 2011, Canada’s employment rate has grown more slowly than every other G7 country except Italy.

It’s no mystery why. Consumer demand is tapped-out by record household debt and private sector expansion is held back by a lack of confidence.  And under Mr. Harper, the federal government is fixed on austerity solely to feed his political vanity: by concocting the appearance of a balanced budget on the eve of the next federal election, no matter the sputtering growth, or the hundreds of thousands of Canadians out of work.

The federal Finance Department says investing in infrastructure is the single most cost-effective way to drive more jobs and growth.

Statistics Canada says large investments in infrastructure drive the biggest productivity gains.  Former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge says it’s fiscally irresponsible to fail to invest at a time when low interest rates can be converted into durable capital assets.

Yet the Harper government has chopped the flagship infrastructure fund by 87 per cent delayed three-quarters of it until after 2019 and made it hard for municipalities to access.

They are going in exactly the wrong direction.

We can do better. Canada can boost our anemic growth, lift job-creation and reduce families’ anxieties about their future—but only if the federal government takes its blinders off.

Scott Brison, MP

Liberal Party of Canada Finance Critic


Vandals strike again

Once again vandals have struck at the corners of Robinson, Nanaimo East and Ellis Street.   The first time last summer, graffiti on the signs  spoiled the two pictures of an architects proposed rendition of a state of the art Performing Arts Centre.

The signs were replaced by the Society and this time some very thoughtless  and ignoble person(s)  stole one of the four-by-eight foot signs  and broke in two the second sign.

One of the four-by-four inch posts was also wrenched from the ground  and stolen.

This vandalism  took some considerable effort.

What does it take to use that energy for the many good causes in this world and stop this senseless vandalism?

Donna Schellenberg

A director of SOPAC Society


Look past bad apples

My husband Alan and I have spent considerable time with our First Nations peoples.

They are some of the most caring and considerate people we have ever met.

Their welcome most genuine.  So some of them maybe imitating some of us by being less than honest, and drinking.

Where did they get these ideas from? And who brought the booze? We could have learned so much from our First Nations, instead we tried to eliminate them.

The First Nations had natural cures for all sorts of ailments, even a birth control made from nature. I wonder sometimes, “Is there any hope for mankind?”

June Longworth

Okanagan Falls


Safety is an issue

(re: Safety not an issue, Letters, Western News, July 16)

There have been no issues with the walkway in the past years because it’s a completely different layout. There is now a bump out where the drop is 3 metres into the water.

The small voices instilling fear mentioned in the letter to the editor is that of the voice of a child screaming as he’s falling off the edge. The City of Penticton is lucky nothing happened to the child that did fall in.

A few months earlier when it was solid ice we might be singing a different tune. Adding a few bars to a small section, is that really going to ruin your view?

If so, walk over a few feet, you should be fine.

Danielle Ercego