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- April 5 - PRESIDENT'S UPDATE: FCABC and Provincial Government Stakeholders meeting
This morning our Executive Officer and I had the opportunity to take part in a conference call along with a number of Provincial government stakeholders. This included representatives from EMBC, BCEHS and the Ministry of Health including the Provincial Health Officer Dr. Henry and the Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Emerson. The concerns of the fire service regarding recent changes to response protocols were expressed during the call. The outcomes from the meeting included:
• Dr. Henry reaffirmed that fire services are valued in the pre-hospital care system.
• The decision to change to the response protocols had two primary aspects. First, with community transmission of COVID-19 confirmed, limiting the potential for exposure by minimizing the number of responders was critical. Second, the ongoing issue related to the availability of PPE and the ability to replenish supplies.
• A commitment that representatives from senior PHSA staff including the Executive Vice President of Clinical Service Delivery, EMBC, and the Ministry of Health will meet with the FCABC President and Executive Officer on a weekly basis moving forward. This will allow further dialogue related to First Responder concerns as this situation continues to evolve.
• Confirmation that all purple calls will be automatically sent to fire services CAD to CAD.
We were appreciative of the opportunity this morning to connect with everyone on the call and are looking forward to meeting regularly to collaborate on how best fire services can contribute to improving prehospital patient care. Under normal circumstances First Responder services and the related levels of service provided are determined by local authority. As we know, from a community and service provider perspective there is more to the rationale for a First Responder response then solely the clinical outcome. The FCABC is well positioned to represent and advocate for the diverse nature of our fire departments from across the province.
We are stronger working together.
Take care, be safe and stay healthy.
Fire Chief Dan Derby, ECFO
- April 1 - Letter from President Dan Derby - Re: Provincial Health Officer order regarding notifying first responders
Provincial Health Officer order regarding notifying first responders
At 2149 last night we received notification from John Tallon, Chief Medical Officer, BCEHS and Darlene MacKinnon, Chief Operating Officer, BCEHS that effective immediately, the Provincial Health Officer has issued an order restricting the dispatching of first responder groups during the COVID-19 pandemic. The notification includes direction regarding compression only CPR and Defibrillation as necessary with no oxygenation or airway management until paramedics arrive. The order is intended to minimize the risk to first responders, patients and the broader community.
First Responders are reminded of the importance of PPE for all patient contacts. Best practice to ensure the safety of our members is to utilize the interrogation tool and the strong application of physical distancing during initial patient assessments and full PPE as follows:
• PPE - N95 mask, gloves, face shield or eye goggles
• Fluid resistant covering (e.g. long sleeve gown, Tyvex coveralls)
• Thorough hand-washing post exposure
I recognize this is not an outcome that is acceptable to all members. Our Executive Officer Phil Lemire, the COVID-19 committee and myself have been working tirelessly to have open conversation with BCEHS regarding changes to response protocols. Unfortunately decisions were made without our input or even notification of the pending announcement. Know that we are doing everything we can to work with all agencies and ministries to ensure the safety of the women and men who make up BC fire services and provide information that allows for local fire services to make the decisions necessary for continuity of their local fire rescue services.
We are stronger working together. Take care, be safe and stay healthy.
Fire Chief Dan Derby, ECFO
This is in response to this:
The following and attached memorandum regarding Provincial Health Officer order regarding notifying first responders is sent on behalf of Dr. John Tallon, Chief Medical Officer, and Darlene MacKinnon, Chief Operating Officer.
To: The Fire Chiefs Association of BC
Re: Provincial Health Officer order regarding notifying first responders
In response to the order issued today by the Provincial Health Officer regarding changing the notifying of our fire first responder partners to reduce their potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus, we are writing to advise you that effective immediately, the follow changes need to be followed in relation to responding to BCEHS events:
1. First responders will NOT be sent to any potential influenza-like-illness (ILI) or COVID-19 events.
2. Automatic activation of first responders will be restricted to "purple" events only with direction to wear N95 masks and full PPE, application of a surgical mask to the patient, perform compression only CPR and defibrillation as necessary with no oxygenation or airway management until paramedics arrive.
3. Automatic activation of first responders will be considered for specific events requiring technical rescue, or lift assist as requested by paramedics. All responders must, at a minimum, wear droplet precautions including eye protection and a surgical mask.
4. First responders may be considered for a select group of "red" events when paramedics are delayed by more than 20 minutes.
We will be working with our BCEHS IMIT staff so that our internal notification processes reflect this change, but the technology changes will take overnight to implement. Once the changes are made, your fire services will receive notification only for calls as outlined above until we receive further notification from the Provincial Health Officer that it is once again safe to resume our regular notifying processes with first responders.
Chief Medical Officer
- March 18 - FCABC President's update on COVID-19
As you know the FCABC established a committee at the beginning of March to support fire services in planning for firefighters who may respond to COVID-19 related and all incident types to ensure awareness and fire fighter safety is paramount. The committee's focus continues to be providing timely information related to infectious disease control, personal protective equipment recommendations and any specific training and education that may be identified, with an eye ahead to next steps related to exposure control, self quarantine and business continuity for delivery of fire, rescue and medical first responder services.
The committee recognizes the key role fire service leaders have to play, to protect our fire service personnel that deliver fire, rescue and medical first responder services across the province and that we value the importance of remaining vigilant and having a plan in place, to do our part in slowing down the progression of the COVID-19 Pandemic. With this in mind key initiatives the committee is focused on now include:
• Supply Chain Management of personal protective equipment
• BCEHS dispatch protocols for COVID-19 / ILI coded calls & best practices for medical first responders responding to COVID-19 calls
• Prioritization of COVID-19 testing for first responders (in the event of an exposure)
• Hot line for firefighters/first responders to call in consideration of 8-1-1 capacity
While we focus our energy on ensuring capacity for continued delivery of fire, rescue and medical first responder services, energy also needs to be directed to supporting administration, fire prevention and support staff and of course, our individual families. Ensuring we find rest where we can and that our families are well informed and looked after, will allow us to focus on our individual responsibilities.
Below are some websites that have some useful information regarding what to do and what is going on with COVID-19. As fire service leaders it is important that we provide consistent accurate information.
Important links and information
• BC Centre for Disease Control: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19
• BC Ministry of Health: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-feature/coronavirus-disease-covid-19
• Health Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html
With regard to our annual Conference and BC Fire Expo. The Executive Committee, in consultation with the Conference and COVID-19 Committees, continues to review the status of our annual event and the potential impacts a cancellation, postponement or continuation may have. We are cognizant of everyone’s concerns and expect a decision to be announced sooner than later.
Many of us have mutual aid and automatic aid relationships in place with our neighbouring departments. Fire Chiefs are encouraged to plan for reduced response capacity and have conversations with mutual and automatic aid partners regarding procedures and capacity to support each other. Attached are two documents to assist fire departments in Business Continuity Planning.
Over the coming weeks and months we will be stretched to lead our fire services, support our local governments response to the COVID-19 pandemic and look after our families and ourselves. As Dr. Bonnie Henry said “This is our time to be kind, to be calm, and be safe”.
Thank you for your service and dedication to your communities. Stay healthy and safe.
FCABC President Fire Chief Dan Derby, ECFO