Efforts to protect firefighters and from coronavirus spread could limits Nanaimo Fire Rescue response to a fraction of its normal volume of medical aid calls, Nanaimo Fire Rescue Chief Karen Fry reported to city council Wednesday. (News Bulletin file photo)

Firefighters ordered to steer clear of most medical aid calls during COVID-19 pandemic

New provincial directive restricts Nanaimo Fire Rescue response to most serious medical aid calls

COVID-19 countermeasures could cut fire department medical aid calls by more than 90 per cent.

In normal circumstances, the vast majority of responses by Nanaimo’s firefighters are for medical assistance, but that’s no longer the case under coronavirus protocols.

Nanaimo Fire Rescue Chief Karen Fry said in her report to city council Wednesday the fire department’s top priority is to keep firefighters healthy and on the job by preventing them from getting sick.

“Our priority is to reduce the risk and protect our first responders, first and foremost, and then to protect our community and save lives and property,” Fry said.

Under efforts to control the spread of coronavirus, operational orders and directives from health authorities are changing daily, which alter how firefighters respond to emergencies.

“[On March 31] we saw an order come through from the medical health officer, so my original report to you has now been changed again,” Fry said. “Effective today, our reduction to medical responses, through a provincial order, we’ll be lowering to the most critical and, what they indicate as purple calls.”

A ‘purple’ call represents the most serious category of B.C. Emergency Health Services responses, indicating an immediately life-threatening condition such as cardiac arrest.

“With that we will probably see an immediate reduction in of about 94 per cent less medical responses in the coming weeks as this progress,” Fry said.

READ ALSO: Stay informed about COVID-19

Nanaimo Fire Rescue is still responding to all fires, alarms, investigations, motor vehicle accidents, burning complaints and firefighters are continuing to install smoke alarms.

“We will continue to do that,” Fry said. “For us that is an essential and critical service to our community. We need to protect our community, not only from COVID-19, but from all other hazards that may be presented to them.”

Routine regular fire inspections that aren’t mandatory at this time for businesses – many of which are closed anyway – are being postponed. Updated information about fire code compliance is available online on the City of Nanaimo website.

Outdoor burning, normally allowed in April on properties larger than 0.4 hectares, has been banned in Nanaimo and on Protection Island to keep air clear for people who might be especially vulnerable at this time because of respiratory conditions, including those from COVID-19.

Fry said Nanaimo Fire Rescue currently has two months’ worth of personal protective equipment supplies and that could extend with the fire department’s new lowered medical aid response directive.

Firefighter training has been minimized or moved online for Nanaimo firefighters and clients of Nanaimo Fire Rescue’s training academy.

Fry also asked that gifts being made to show support for first responders, be given to charities instead.

“I just wanted to thank the community. We’ve had a lot of support shown for first responders … in general there’s a lot of generosity out there,” Fry said. “For example, people would like to give gifts or discounts to the fire service, but our position is that we would rather see you giving to some of the charities that are really hurting right now in our community.”

TODAY’S MOST-READ: Couple won’t self-isolate after returning from overseas

Like us on
Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Community policing office’s closure will impact safety in the area

Strong police and bylaw presence needed in neighbourhood, say letter writers

Stolen gargoyle returns to its perch in south Nanaimo

Petey, a concrete gargoyle statue, was returned by police after City of Nanaimo crew found it

RDN Transit to see rollout of 15 new HandyDart buses

Buses will have temporary protective barriers installed to prevent spread of COVID-19

RDN says water in French Creek still potable despite levels of iron, manganese

Strategy to improve water quality being established

United Way distributes $120,000 in federal funding to seniors in need during pandemic

Salvation Army, Eden Gardens, hospice society among groups granted money

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

Beefs & Bouquets, May 27

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

Most Read