Tiers are not enough for local fire departments, ambulances

Coun­cillors in Wellington North are wondering if tiered response agreements will reduce the number of ambulance assist calls for the Arthur and Mount Forest fire departments.

On April 28, council re­viewed the letter of agreement drafted by Clerk Lori Heinbuch and Mount Forest Fire Chief Ron MacEachern.

“In an effort to reduce the number of ambulance assist calls and the ambulance being stationed a lot of the time in Harriston (not in Mount For­est), I am recommending that a tiered response agreement be entered into for the Township of Wellington North’s fire de­partments in both Mount Forest and Arthur. This type of agreement would reduce the department’s volume and at the same time have no effect on the town­ship in respect to fire protection and response.

The agreement details which types of emergencies the fire departments would be called to, depending on if an ambulance is situated nearby.

If an ambulance is not available, the fire department would continue to be called for both levels or tiers of emergencies. Mayor Mike Broomhead said he is unclear how the arrangement would benefit the municipality.

Heinbuch explained if an ambulance is available, the fire department would be required to respond only to tier B emergencies, which include motor vehicle collisions, all farm and industrial entrapments and accidents, and situations where vital signs are absent.

Currently, departments are required to respond to all calls, which can include unconsciousness, difficulty breathing, chest pains, suspected heart attacks, seizures, and strokes.

Broomhead wondered if the real issue is that there are no ambulances stationed at all three locations – Arthur, Harriston, and Mount Forest. Heinbuch said that has to be discussed with Royal City Ambulance.

When councillor Dan Yake asked if the proposal has the support of both fire chiefs, Heinbuch said it does. Yake then asked who determines if the call requires a what type of response. Heinbuch said that is determined by the dispatch office.

Councillor Ross Chaulk, chairman of the fire committee, said, “A lot of times the department is sent out on a call and it is cancelled while they are on the way.”

As a result time is wasted.

“Hopefully, this agreement will reduce that,” Chaulk said.