Bossé, Housefather clash over EMS
By Joel Goldenberg and Jason Magder, The Suburban

2004-12-22
CôteSt.HampWest councillor Anthony Housefather and Montreal executive committee member Georges Bossé clashed over the ability of firefighters to respond to emergency calls as quickly as Côte St. Luc’s volunteer Emergency Medical Services.

During Friday’s council meeting, Bossé argued against CôteSt.HampWest councillor Dida Berku’s resolution that would have allowed EMS to continue to respond to Priority 1 calls

“They’re great people, they’re doing a great job,” Bossé told reporters, but went on to insist that EMS does not respond to 100 percent of calls locally passed to them by 911. “The firefighters [will have to guarantee 100 percent of calls] for Priority 1 service.”

Housefather disputed Bossé’s statements.

“We hit probably 95 percent of the calls,” Housefather said. “The fire department hits [a much lower percentage] of the calls than EMS. The reason EMS would not hit a call is because they’re out of the station on another call. If we get three calls, we have two trucks.

But Montreal fire chief Jean-Pierre Laporte, who oversees the first responder service, said it would be impossible for volunteers to respond to Priority 1 calls because the firefighters’ collective agreement with the city puts that responsibility squarely on firefighters. Laporte said the protocol can’t be restored to the way it was prior to the megacity, when the fire department in Côte St. Luc answered calls when EMS workers were attending to another emergency.