In a statement sent to the Sounder, the Gabriola Volunteer Fire Department says it is working towards upgrading the Department’s medical responder program – from First Responders to Emergency Medical Responder (EMR).
This is being done through the support of Don Elkington, who is seeking to raise $40,000 to upgrade the GVFD’s medical program.
The Department says that currently, GVFD members are trained to First Responder Level 3 (FR). A great, but limited program.
With these funds the GVFD will be able to upgrade most of their members to Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) status, which will allow members to do additional medical practices.
EMR is the most basic level which BE Emergency Health Services requires for paramedic employment on ambulances in BC.
The Emergency Medical Assistants Licensing Board states if a person holds a licence in the category of EMR, the licensing board may endorse the licence to permit the person to provide one or more of the following services: use and interpretation of a pulse oximeter; use of nasal cannulas; use and interpretation of a glucometer; chest and abdominal auscultation; insertion and maintenance of nasopharyngeal airway, transportation, and other various assessment and medical procedures.
This is in addition to any procedures which are already within the scope of practice for an FR.
The GVFD says the EMR program will increase the level of care that the GVFD is able to the community, and will cost less than the current FR program as it will eliminate costly license renewals every three years in Victoria for each FR license holder.
EMRs are not required to go for license renewal testing, but instead are required to fulfill continuing competence requirements: complete 20 continuing education credits; and have 20 patient contacts every year. This requirement applies regardless of the EMA’s employer, status (medical leave or maternity/paternity leave), employment status, or residence inside or outside British Columbia.
The department says by doing in-house training for their members, and being able to the offer medical courses to other local fire departments, will also offset the cost of this program.
Staff with the Emergency Medical Assistants Licensing Branch, Ministry of Health confirmed the EMR scope of practice is greater than that of a first responder and the services that Fire Department EMRs could provide on scene would be up to department management, as long as members are working within the EMR scope.
EMA staff wrote, “there are currently at least 20 departments in BC both metro and rural that have started to go this route and Prince George fire department has been an EMR department for about 10 years. A few of the other departments that have chosen this route are Terrace, Delta, Vancouver Fire Rescue, Port Moody, Prince Rupert, West Kelowna, and Dawson Creek.”