First Responder cuts won’t affect Revelstoke — yet

Cuts to funding for the province’s First Responder program will not affect the newly re-initiated program at the Revelstoke Fire Department, Chief Rob Girard said today.

“The cuts at this point will not affect the First Responder Program that commenced service on Nov. 2 because we just completed the certification for 15 of our firefighters,” he said in an e-mail to local news media.  “Where we will see the effect is when we have staff take the Train the Trainer program so we can deliver further First Responder Courses to our firefighters.”

Girard said the department nonetheless supports a demand for answers from Health Minister Kevin Falcon from the Fire Chiefs’ Association of BC (FCABC). Since 1991 the Emergency and Health Servies Commission has helped pay to train firefighters through the Paramedic Academy of the Justice Institute in exchange for departments assisting BC Ambulance paramedics in their communities.

“This withdrawal of funding will hurt pre‐hospital care for the residents and visitors to our province and we are going to make the Minister very aware of this,” FCABC President Stephen Gamble said in a statement.

There are about 350 Fire Departments in BC and according to a report on prehospital care in 2007, almost 200 provided first responder services. The announcement in September withdrew $250,000 from the program effective next March 31. However, BC fire services have already felt the effects with the cancellation of some scheduled training.