New procedure to reduce unnecessary firefighter dispatch

BRUCEDALE – Guelph-Eramosa council agreed on June 17 to a new tiered response procedure for fire departments in Wellington County and Guelph that is expected to reduce the number of times firefighters are dispatched to medical situations.

Previously, firefighters were sent on the most serious Code 4 calls, when there was a serious threat to a person’s life, regardless of when an ambulance was expected on scene, and on less urgent Code 4 and Code 3 calls when an ambulance was not expected to arrive for at least 15 minutes.

Under the new arrangement with the Guelph Wellington Emergency Medical Service and the Cambridge Central Ambulance Communications Centre, firefighters will still be sent on the most serious Code 4 calls. These include vital signs absent, choking, burns, electrocution, inhalation, near drowning, vehicle collisions, industrial accidents, farm accidents and penetrating trauma.

For slightly less serious Code 4 calls, firefighters will be dispatched when an ambulance is not expected to arrive for at least 20 minutes.

Firefighters will not normally be dispatched on Code 3 calls, unless the dispatcher or paramedics decide that they are needed.

Fire emergencies will continue to take priority over tiered response medical calls.

Deputy fire chief Jim Petrik told council there would be some cost savings, based on fewer payments to firefighters responding to calls.

He said that out of 226 calls in 2018, 11 or 12 would have been considered unnecessary under the new procedures.