VANCOUVER - Suppose they held a plane crash and no ambulances came. That was the reality today in Vancouver during a simulation designed to test and practice local emergency preparedness to a plane crash with several people injured. On hand were police, fire, waterfront and other responders, but not a single ambulance.
The Ambulance Paramedics of BC were not even informed of the exercise by the BC Ambulance Service (BCAS) – they only found out through the media. The rest of the emergency responders had to carry out the entire simulation without having the ambulances and/or air ambulances that would answer the call and carry the seriously wounded in the event of a real crash.
Ambulance Paramedics, CUPE 873 spokesperson BJ Chute called it unfortunate “because this type of exercise is so important for all emergency responders to practice our techniques and to figure out better ways to work together so that in the event of a real emergency we are giving the public the best service possible.” He added that “sadly, it is indicative of the attitude of our employer that we would not be informed so we could take part in a beneficial training event like this one.”
The 3,500 ambulance paramedics have been on strike since April 1 for improved ambulance services, wage parity with other emergency responders, better staffing levels and a multi-year contract for stability.
After reading about the exercise in the newspaper yesterday, the paramedics contacted the BCAS and were told the employer had “decided not to take part.” Chute called it “insulting, but not surprising that the ambulance service would not take part in an exercise that would remind the public that police, fire and ambulance are all vital parts of the equation in an emergency of this kind. “
Contact: BJ Chute, Director of Public Education, Ambulance Paramedics of BC: 604.218.6169
Murray Bush, CUPE National Communications Representative: 778.554.2234