June 22nd, 2024

Economic SPC signs off on double-digit staff increase for Fire/EMS

By Lethbridge Herald on November 16, 2022.

Herald file photo by Ry Clarke Lethbridge firefighters work at the scene of a house fire earlier this month.

Al Beeber – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – abeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge city council acting in its capacity as the Economic Standing Policy Committee unanimously voted to move along the budget process a resolution calling for the hiring of a total of 13 employees for Fire and EMS services.

On Wednesday, City treasurer Darrel Matthews told the SPC the new staff hirings will be contingent on a new contract being signed with Alberta Health Services.

An initiative presented in the draft budget said the staff are needed due to “EMS crews reduced availability to provide fire/rescue services.”

The plan calls for the hiring of four staff in the fall of 2023, four in spring of 2024 and five in 2025.

The total cost of the initiative over four years will be $2,424,011.

Annually, that amounts to $261,237 in 2023, $1,204,574 in 2024, $2,082,865 in 2025 and $2,424,011.

The initiative states that the first arriving apparatus on scene of a single family structure fire should be within 10 minutes 90 per cent of the time. A crew of between 12-14 firefighters should be assembled for a such a fire.

According to current service level performance in 2021, the first arriving to such a single family dwelling fire was nine minutes and 45 seconds with a unit of three firefighters on the apparatus. The second apparatus arrived at 11 minutes, 27 seconds with three more firefighters.

Final decisions on motions approved in the deliberation will be made by council when it formally drafts the final budget for 2023-’26. The base minimum annual property tax increase residents could see is 3.77 per cent annually.

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One of the biggest draws of manpower from Fire/EMS are responses to overdoses. I am not sure how the AB Gov gets its stats, which should be easy since they dispatched and those stats should be easy to read and understand.
I just got this from the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions which shows such inaccuracies that it is now wonder why we find ourselves in such a mess.
They say: ” . . .Regarding opioid-related EMS responses in the City of Lethbridge, there were 382 responses in the 2021 calendar year and 141 in the first six months of 2022; forty-nine of those occurring from May to July . . . ”
That means there would be only and average of 1.05 responses to overdoses per day . . . laughable if this was not such a serious issues where people die!
i am sure our first responders don’t like this misinformation being spewed since they are the ones that respond sometimes as many as 6 times per hour in the downtown area alone to overdoses!
How can you find a solution when you have the wrong stats? I would guess there are days were they respond over 30 times per day and today I noticed responses near/at the library 4 times in an hour.
They are tired of this and we need to stop this in city! When EMS arrives and they administer Narcan or Naloxone, most of the time further treatment is refused by the addict . . . so why do we have a trauma trained EMS unit responding often backed up by fire services for support meaning we have 4 or 5 members now onscene.
Can we not have a minivan with trained overdose specialists respond first who don’t need all the kit onboard that EMS units have for accidents and other calls?
I have even watched a young man go down, getting CPR from friends then they got some Naloxone into him and he was revived just as EMS arrived, but he refused further treatment and staggered away . . . EMS did monitor him from a distance to make sure he didn’t go down again.
There has to be a better way, because my calculations show over 5,000 EMS responses per year in this city while AB Gov says only 382 . . . we can’t fix the problem if we don’t have the right stats!
We need out Fire/EMS and police, so they both need out support!