Letter: Retired firefighter takes issue with bashing of ‘FireMedics’

Editor: Re: Township’s FireMedics a waste of tax dollars (the Times, April 5)

I have sat idly by over time, reading but not responding to a small cadre of writers who take delight is bashing the fire service, but I feel it is time to respond to writer George Blachuras’s latest broadside.

Full disclosure from me, I am a retired captain who served 30-plus years in Vancouver.

In all fairness, Blachuras starts out asking a couple of legitimate questions but quickly takes a large leap, inferring that TOL will go broke hiring firefighters. What nonsense.

It has been said that a little bit of knowledge is dangerous and that is borne out with inane observations, such as having a full fire crew attend to traffic accidents.

How in the world Blachuras believes that is a “blatant waste of taxpayers’ money” is beyond my comprehension, but I only have 30 years experience in being on the front lines in many facets regarding fire/rescue operations.

His lead-in to that statement comments about attending a “simple traffic accident.”

Well, Mr. Blachuras, the fire service subscribes to the ideal that a crew cannot determine what a situation is by being an armchair quarterback. I invite him to observe what is actually happening at an MVA on a busy street or on the highway. Each person there has a responsibility not only to the patient(s),and the public, but to other first responders.

He asks what the reason is for firefighters to attend over 2,500 medical calls. Has it occurred to him his statement includes a multitude of scenarios?

He is rolling calls such as long falls, heart attacks, burns, and child and patient distress all into one overbearing and misleading statement.

Let me take his suggestion of tearing up the first responder agreement and start thinking about alternate deliverance.

Let’s talk about cross-trained fire fighters and paramedics. Let’s talk about both services being under one authority and working out of the same building. You can call it a fire hall or a fire medic centre or whatever else you want to call it. Let’s work out seniority and pay scales for this wonderful new service.

Not content with bashing TOL Fire Fighters, he also lambastes the Vancouver operations.

His statement that “what we need is firefighters to fight fires and paramedics to provide medical assistance” is pure Pollyannish. Rather, his ire should be toward the provincial government.

I firmly believe that the men and women of the BC Ambulance Service are among the best in the world. The fact remains that the provincial government has done a great disservice to the people of B.C. by not keeping ambulance personnel and equipment up to an acceptable standard.

In the past, I suffered two heart attacks at home. All I cared about was getting competent assistance. It never occurred to me to complain about who came through my front door. I am more than happy to say I received excellent treatment from both EHS and fire personnel. They both have my full support.

Where does he get his figures from that all firefighters make over $100,000 per year? In your dreams, sir.

A great deal more could be accomplished with two things. First, the B.C. government needs to support our paramedics. Second, we get nowhere by finger pointing and making incomplete allegations at the expense of others.

In addition, I would be remiss if I did not support the paid-on-call firefighters within the TOL. These are the people who truly “get it.”

They attend weekly training sessions to ensure they are capable of delivering a first rate service. They often have family and social events set aside as they answer their pagers to assist our career firefighters.

If I could pass on a bit of wisdom to Mr. Blachuras it would be this: Remember that when you are pointing an accusing finger at someone, three fingers are pointing back at you. So much more could be accomplished by working together to obtain achievable goals.

If the urge is strong, then run for local government and lead the way for change rather that pouting and blaming others for not falling in step with whatever your agenda may be.

Captain Rob Jones-Cook (Ret.)

Walnut Grove