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B.C. government urged to fund medic trucks to free fire services for emergencies

Local governments have long maintained emergency health services have been downloaded to fire departments.
Municipal politicians say lack of ambulances has led to fire services filling gaps at the expense of fire protection. Photo: Brendan Kergin

The provincial government should consider funding the capital and operating costs of medic trucks to deal with the ambulance shortage, Union of BC Municipalities convention delegates voted Sept. 21.

A resolution said municipal fire and rescue services are often the first responders to calls for medical service causing elevated wear and tear on fire apparatus. They're unable to leave the scene until an ambulance arrives putting the community fire protection services at risk, the resolution noted.

It said the provision of medic trucks would ensure that an adequate level of fire protection is maintained in communities and the cost of providing purely medical services, a provincial responsibility, are not unfairly burdening municipalities.

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said the province has been dumping pre-hospital care onto fire departments for some time.

“We need the province to step up,” he said.

The UBCM is holding its annual convention in Vancouver. Delegate discuss and vote on local, provincial and federal issues impacting local government and meet with senior government officials on such issues.