I wish to comment on the article in Friday’s Daily Bulletin about the volunteer firefighters.
I, as well, am a part-time volunteer on the fire brigade, and am feeling very frustrated and angry with the decision by town council to further reduce the number of full-time firefighters in Fort Frances.
In our minutes from a meeting with council, it stated that as firefighters retire in the coming years, they will not be replaced—eight full-time firefighters is not the minimum number they are looking to achieve.
My issues with this decision are two-fold as I am a mother of two young children and a full-time paramedic in the district. First, I cannot commit to the conditions council is looking at enforcing on the volunteers as to training schedules and time commitments, and will be forced to quit.
This greatly grieves me as I have fully enjoyed my ability to serve in this capacity.
Secondly, I also understand the huge responsibility these dedicated, professional firefighters have as I see them at work as a paramedic, as well. I trust not only my life, but that of my family’s, to them as I see and personally know of their commitment and dedication to their job.
It is not something they do on the side—it is who they are. And they take their job very seriously. They have proven that they go above and beyond their call to duty with every hour they volunteer after their shift of 12 hours has ended.
They all carry a pager every day, and respond to the fire or motor vehicle accident calls that come in day and night.
I wonder if the general public realizes that by down-sizing the full-time fire department, what a huge risk they are placing on themselves and their loved ones.
Firefighters also are trained first responders. When the ambulance in Fort Frances is busy with a call, it is the firefighter who responds—as a first responder—with oxygen and first aid help, and can stabilize the patient until the paramedics arrive to further their care.
The fire department also has received funding for a defibrillator and would have been providing life and death assistance to patients to give them that much-needed initial chance at life, whether it be CPR or defib, if first on a scene.
With the new reductions in place (one firefighter will be at the fire hall), there will be no one to man that defibrillator and help our citizens until the ambulance arrives. This means all the steps we, as Emergency Medical Services workers, have striven for will be taken backwards—not forwards.
No firefighter will be responding to medical tiered response, meaning no aid will be given to the citizens of Fort Frances, if the ambulance is busy on one call, until the ambulance from Emo’s full-time service or International Falls volunteers are paged in and cross the border.
That first six minutes are so vital to a person in need of medical attention that I cannot believe council is willing to sacrifice a valuable service that means the difference between life and death for so many in an aging community.
My children’s lives are worth far too much to me, as are my friends and neighbours. This is not just numbers and statistics we are looking at. It is your mother, daughter, neighbour, and spouse.
We have made such gains in our community to provide the best life-saving advantages because we work with, live beside, and care for the people that make up our home town. It greatly saddens me that general ignorance and apathy could endanger lives of those I care for with the stroke of a pen and without regard or consideration for those it is most affecting.
None of the volunteers want to see their neighbour or co-workers home and loved ones put at risk because town council has forced us to take a stand. We are looking for every other option at compromise because we do care—that’s why we are volunteering.
It is not a position that I believe anyone should have to make and I sincerely hope council will heed our requests and pleas and stop this debilitating action before people’s lives have been put at risk or lost.
Nothing can be worth that.