New Westminster firefighters receive ’emergency medical responders’ designation as medical calls soar

New Westminster’s firefighters can now provide more assistance when responding to calls for medical aid.

According to a release Monday, firefighters can now practice as emergency medical responders and are allowed to assess people’s blood pressure and oxygen levels, among other procedures.

The department says the new designation ensures patients will receive critical care in a timely manner.

Deputy Fire Chief Brad Davie says crews can now help B.C.’s ambulance services if they’re delayed. 

“We can be on chain for significant time frames before [ambulances] are able to respond because they may be tied up at other calls,” said Davie.

He added that more than 50 percent of the calls firefighters responded to last year were medical calls.

Until now, Davie said, “There would have been quite a few times when could have actually deployed treatments that we didn’t have available to us.”

The new license is also expected to benefit the city during extreme weather events.