WHEREAS public health is a provincial responsibility, and emergency medical services (EMS) and ambulance response are the authority of Alberta Heath Services (AHS) and its contractors; and
WHEREAS AHS centralized and assumed responsibility for EMS from municipalities and at that time promised no degradation of EMS services in rural communities; and
WHEREAS many municipalities operate a fire service utilizing volunteer firefighters or paid on-call firefighters who participate in the Medical First Response program but are not trained paramedics; and
WHEREAS these volunteers often serve as first responders in the absence or delay of Emergency Medical Technicians and paramedics within their service area; and
WHEREAS AHS has, through its ambulance and paramedic processes and policies, significantly reduced the services provided to rural Alberta; and
WHEREAS as a result, ambulance personnel are not always available to attend as first responders thereby leaving that responsibility to the volunteer firefighters; and
WHEREAS many volunteer firefighters are experiencing an increasing level of stress or burnout and reduced capacity to respond because of these additional duties; and
WHEREAS many jurisdictions, due to unbudgeted rising costs, may need to contemplate reducing service levels to no longer respond to medical assist calls, even though it places its own residents in further jeopardy;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta advocate to the Government of Alberta to compensate municipalities that operate a fire service with volunteers or employees that are qualified as Medical First Responders in instances when those volunteers or employees respond to emergencies due to the absence or delay of provincial emergency medical technicians and paramedics in their service area.
Ambulance services have deteriorated considerably in the past several years. Specifically, this year (to date) our firefighters have been first on scene for medical assist calls 23 times and in 15 of them the wait time exceeded 20 minutes before an ambulance arrived. During that period, responding firefighters are often placed in a compromising position. If this continues, we fear that we may lose excellent personnel and, equally troubling, will have serious difficulty recruiting new members.
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.