The April 5 KTW article on response to medical calls (‘Change in response policy has firefighters concerned’) expresses the concerns of firefighters and their union, the International Association of Fire Fighters.
However, the information being given to the reporter is very inflammatory, not vetted or verified and the reader is left with the impression firefighters are so well trained that they diagnose spinal cord injuries, heart attacks and more.
First and foremost, firefighters have two weeks of first-aid training, the same as an industrial first-aid attendant.
Secondly a rapid response to stand and reassure a patient waiting for an ambulance does little to reduce the workload of paramedics and does absolutely nothing in the way of transporting the patient to the appropriate medical facility.
Many well documented medical studies in Canada demonstrate that unless a patient has no pulse, has stopped breathing, is bleeding to death or trapped (which is four to six per cent of all calls), firefighters make no difference in the outcome of the patient or the length of their hospital stay.
It’s good to raise concerns about lack of resources in any emergency service, but allowing false statements to evoke fear in the public is irresponsible.