Paramedics and firefighters across B.C. are hoping for the passage of a private member's bill that would force people to get tested for diseases if their body fluid comes into contact with emergency workers.
The bill, introduced by Kelowna Liberal MLA Norm Letnick, would enable emergency workers to apply for a court order to force patients to undergo testing.
First responders are frequently exposed to the risk of infection while trying to save people's lives, says Larry Thomas of the BC Professional Firefighters' Association.
"We show up at a lot of emergency scenes and sometimes, you may get splashed with a bodily fluid," said Thomas.
If the patient refuses to get tested for AIDS or many other communicable diseases, the emergency workers may have to undergo often difficult or painful treatment as a precaution.
What's worse is the stress that's placed on the emergency workers and their families, said Bronwyn Barter, the president of the Ambulance Paramedics of B.C.
"We are left with uncertainty and could be six months to find out the results of tests and different issues at home because of the uncertainties," Barter said.
Letnik is optimistic his bill will pass, since he's a government backbencher and the new law would be virtually cost-free for the provincial government.