Op-ed submission to The Gazette

November 29, 2007

By Anthony Housefather and Glenn J. Nashen

In The Gazette of November 28, 2007, the Montreal Firefighters Association published an open letter to Russell Copeman, MNA, in which it claimed that Côte Saint-Luc Emergency Medical Services (EMS) first responders have “much slower response times than Montreal firefighters.” It went on to urge Mr. Copeman to consult the official figures from Urgences-santé.

The City of Côte Saint-Luc has consulted those figures and they demonstrate that the claims of the Montreal Firefighters Association are completely false.

For the first eight periods of 2007-2008 as measured by Urgences-santé, the average response time of our superb EMS volunteers was 6 minutes and 18 seconds from the time that a call was received at the Urgences-santé communication centre until EMS arrived at the scene. In comparison, the average time for the Montreal firefighters was 8 minutes and 24 seconds. In short, on average the fire department was 2 minutes and 6 seconds slower than Cote Saint-Luc EMS.

The numbers are all the more staggering when one looks at the average response time for the firefighters in our neighbouring Town of Hampstead, where their average response time was 9 minutes. Meaning that they were 2 minutes and 42 seconds slower than Côte Saint-Luc EMS.

It is disappointing that the firefighters union is so nervous about having a service on the island whose numbers can be compared with theirs, that they choose to mislead the public as to the facts.

Côte Saint-Luc is proud to have had a superb EMS service that we have run for the last 27 years. While we are very happy that the firefighters will provide these services to the rest of the island of Montreal, we have no desire to see our excellent service that meets the needs of our municipality replaced by the firefighters. We are very thankful that the Minister of Municipal Affairs has recognized the value of our service and allowed us to retain it in the draft of Bill 22 she presented and we will continue to fight to retain our service.

While we have no desire to attack the fire department, we will respond to the distortions and misleading information that are coming continually from the Montreal Firefighters Association.

Anthony Housefather is mayor of Côte Saint-Luc. Glenn J. Nashen is the councillor responsible for public safety.