FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – A local firefighters’ union president says people in emergencies will be able to get better care thanks to some changes at the Provincial level.

On December 3rd, Health Minister Adrian Dix announced changes to the scope of practice, allowing first responders to perform more techniques to support patients and paramedics.

Local 2143 President Matt Crompton says this is the result of extensive discussion between the British Columbia Professional Fire Fighters Association, the Fire Chiefs’ Association of British Columbia as well as other agencies.

“The BC Professional Firefighters Association put forward 26 of the 43 recommendations I believe,” said Crompton. “The government is making these changes to further support the patient when there might be a delay or more support for ambulances needed if they’re needing help.”

“This is going to allow us to provide additional diagnostic testing like blood pressure and blood glucose. That will better inform us of what’s going on with the patient while we’re on scene, as well as allow us to transfer that information to ambulance staff so they have a better idea of what they’ll be arriving at.”

Crompton says the heat dome that caused hundreds of deaths this summer, and the stress that it put on BC Ambulance, highlighted the need for more help.

“We’ve always provided the most amount of care that we possibly can. We were just held back by regulations that we were bound to. This definitely opens up opportunities for us to be able to provide that further care, before BC Ambulance arrives on scene.”

Crompton explains how an emergency call gets processed.

“It’ll go through a central call station, and they’ll transfer it to BC Ambulance. Their dispatch will page out the ambulance, and there’s a limited number of calls that we respond to supporting BC Ambulance. Mainly the most urgent ones and the delayed calls.”

Crompton says there’s never much turnover in the fire service, but while BC Ambulance has been struggling with staffing issues across the province, he says they deserve a lot of credit.

“I definitely want to praise the work of our paramedics here in Fort St. John because they’re definitely under pressure constantly. Our paramedics do a fantastic job.”