Firefighters no longer medical first responders
Sackville firefighters will focus on fighting fires due to liability issues
The town of Sackville is no longer allowing its firefighters to serve as first responders for medical calls due to liability issues.
Sackville Mayor Pat Estabrooks said it's an issue the town has been looking at for more than a year.
"No, our firefighters will not be first responders and we gave notification to Ambulance New Brunswick."
Ambulance New Brunswick stressed the decision in Sackville's policy won't affect service.
A spokesperson for Ambulance New Brunswick has asked for a meeting with town council to talk about its performance and address any concerns council might have.
Other than the fire chief, the force is entirely volunteer-based.
The town said the cost, time and requirements necessary to train local volunteer firefighters in medical services is too great.
Long-time town councillor Virgil Hammock said firefighters should concentrate on what they're trained to do.
"It's a great deal of liability upon the town of Sackville which we can ill afford and it puts our firefighters in danger," Hammock said.
"Their job is to fight fires and that's what they should be doing."
Hammock said this issue is part of a bigger problem.
"It's part of the whole government plan of centralization of services," he said.
"It's fine to centralize, you know, sending your sheets to Miramichi and to be done from the hospital but when I have a heart attack I want the ambulance like right now," Hammock said.
"I don't want to wait fifteen minutes while one comes from Shediac or someplace else."
Ambulance New Brunswick said it is not only meeting but exceeding response time projections in the Sackville district.
It says during the 2011 calendar year, it arrived on time more than 96 percent of the time.
However, Mayor Eastabrooks said there may be occasions when firefighters can help out, just not as a medical responder.
"They will not be responding for a medical event," she said.