Newman: Failure to launch first responders sends a message

Stanstead QC–I believe that a strong Emergency Medical Service – including first responders – sends a strong message to all parts of a community. We care enough about each of you to ensure that there will be qualified care providers by your side as quickly as possible each and every time one of you calls 911 for assistance.

So what is a town saying when it continues to delay the launch of its medical first response service? We just can’t see past the paperwork to the potential benefits this program will bring to our community. We’re too busy fundraising for the new arena to realize there will be no one to respond lest a child gets hurt on the new ice surface. We’d like you to bring your business to our town but you need to know that if the ambulance is on a run you’re strictly on your own out there.

There are no good excuses for not having a first responder service in a rural town like Stanstead. Not a single one. We have one ambulance available at a time here. If it’s out on a call the next one might be coming from Magog or Coaticook – 20 minutes away if all is right with the world and a lot longer if it’s midwinter and there’s a storm blowing through the region.

Clearly, the Stanstead Ambulance Service recognizes the need for first response. The Ambulance service was the prime mover for the town’s public access defibrillation program which saw five automatic external defibrillators deployed in publicly-accessible buildings. The AEDs are a solid link in the chain of survival. First Responders are the next essential link in that chain.

The chain can only be as strong as its weakest link. And the potential for lifesaving is not maximized when there are enormous delays between accessing the EMS system and the arrival of ambulance medics.

We moved here last June. During the summer there was talk about establishing a medical first response program in town. It didn’t happen. Last Christmas word went out the town was seriously considering launching a first response program. Applications were taken. The rumoured launch date for first response was May 1st.

I put in my paperwork before the program was even officially announced. I waited to hear if my application for the first response program would be accepted. Eventually I heard I could expect an interview with the new Fire Chief and the EMS Coordinator responsible for the project.

I’m still waiting.

So is rest of the community.

Failure to launch sends an equally powerful message.
Sadly, it’s the wrong one.

Be well. Practice big medicine.

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