STEADY BROOK — The Hughes Brook-Irishtown-Summerside Fire Department is hoping to improve operations with training attended by its members over the weekend.
Three volunteer firefighters took in a two-day session offered by Fire and Emergency Services Newfoundland and Labrador.
The session was available to all fire departments and councils in the area, to bring municipalities up-to-speed with fire service regulations.
Dave Ruth, deputy chief of the Hugues Brook-Irishtown-Summerside fire services, said one topic the department found particularly useful was the explanation of liabilities as first responders to a medical crisis.
Ruth said there has been a steep increase in the amount of medical calls, versus fire calls, the department receives.
Last year, he estimates the department receives four emergency calls for fires, and 30 for medical services, that can range from cardiac arrest to childbirth.
The department runs with volunteers, who are notified of an emergency from 911 services at Western Memorial Regional Hospital.
Because of the fire department’s proximity to north shore communities, the department could arrive on scene 15 to 20 minutes before an ambulance.
The ability for the department to provide all first response medical services is not only helpful to the community, it encourages younger volunteers to join, said Ruth.
“More and more of these young guys are looking for (medical training),” he said. “They don’t want to be sitting around at the fire hall.”
Ruth soaked in the information from the session, because his community is relying on the fire service team to be accountable for whatever situations may arise.
A main point coming from the insurance and liabilities portion of the seminar, is ensuring two-way communication between department and town councils. Fire service is a branch of the municipality, and therefore is an extension of the town’s insurance policy.
If a fire department wants to provide more than typical fire services, council must be informed.
Council’s acknowledgment of the department’s decision is not enough, Ruth learned at the meeting. There also must be a paper trail of approval.
Lloyd Burton attended the session as a volunteer firefighter and member of the Irishtown-Summerside council.
The town council is very informed about the fire department’s practices, but Burton said he learned even more from the session.
“The more informed we are,” he said. “The better we’ll be.”
He said council is very supportive of the changing needs of the community and will endorse any procedures the fire department would like to carry out.