Sarnia council to discuss full resumption of emergency response agreement

Sarnia Police Service and Sarnia Fire & Rescue, August 16, 2019. (BlackburnNews photo by Colin Gowdy)

Sarnia council is being asked to direct staff to pursue the full resumption of an emergency response agreement made with the County of Lambton in 2014.

Lambton County Emergency Medical Services has a duty to direct the Wallaceburg Central Ambulance Communications Centre to include Sarnia Fire Rescue Services (SFRS) on early response and emergency medical calls.

The agreement was modified at the beginning of the pandemic, dropping SFRS from some calls, to slow the spread of COVID-19 and minimize the anticipated impact on the department’s capacity to maintain essential services.

Mayor Mike Bradley said he was stunned Lambton EMS made the decision, in the midst of a pandemic, to block the calls to the city fire service.

“We can get around that by using the Sarnia Police Service Dispatch Centre, but, when there are people in trouble, medical emergencies or in a car accident, they don’t care who shows up, they just want someone to show up,” said Bradley.

Under the modified response, SFRS has not been required to attend motor vehicle collisions where EMS has been dispatched, calls where vital signs are absent or an individual is unresponsive or unconscious, or calls requesting paramedics for assistance.

“The city has five fire halls, there are two EMS stations, and in the past when this protocol is in place it was of great service to the public in saving lives. It’s a huge step backwards to deny access to the Sarnia Fire Service to those calls through the ambulance dispatch centre.”

Bradley hopes council re-endorses the direction during its virtual meeting Monday at 10 a.m.