CSL EMS announcement anti-climactic

By Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban


The battle to preserve the ability of Côte St. Luc’s volunteer Emergency Medical Services to answer extreme emergency calls was one of the more dramatic in the city’s history, as intensive lobbying took place and petitions were organized to prevent the Montreal fire department from taking over that function as planned after the end of 2008.

One of the more dramatic incidents was D’Arcy McGee MNA Lawrence Bergman’s exclusive announcement to The Suburban in early 2007 that the Montreal fire department would be held off for an extra year, even catching Côte St. Luc council members off guard.

The fire department still proceeded to institute a first responder service across the rest of the island. Côte St. Luc boasts that EMS reaches the scenes of emergencies faster than the fire department and much faster than Urgences Santé.

“EMS have shown response times averaging three minutes, which is the fastest average response time for first responder medical calls on the island,” councillor Glenn Nashen said. “Rapid response time by EMS can mean the difference between life and death,

The drama went on even when the Quebec Liberals agreed to pass Bill 22, the law to reform the Montreal agglomeration structure and ensure EMS would remain under Côte St. Luc’s control in perpetuity. The question at that time was whether its passage would be prevented in a minority government situation with the PQ and ADQ protesting.

Then came the announcement that Montreal and the demerged communities came to an agreement on agglomeration reform.

And then, nothing until last week, when Côte St. Luc put out a press statement called “Côte St. Luc saves lifesavers”, announcing that legislation had been adopted to ensure EMS would remain under that city’s control.

“We will continue to safeguard the residents of our community 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” Mayor Anthony Housefather said in the statement.

The announcement seemed to come out of nowhere, and councillor Glenn Nashen admitted to The Suburban July 1 that Bill 22 had passed June 20, with little media attention.

Councillor Allan Levine approached The Suburban during Côte St. Luc’s Canada Day celebrations to welcome the passage of Bill 22.

“We have to pay for EMS, so we gave up a lot of governance for a few dollars in terms of the agglomeration, but we got governance over EMS,” he said. “I’m so proud we got it, I think it’s worth the money. When somebody is lying on the ground with a broken arm, it’s not Priority 1, so nobody’s coming so fast. But EMS will be there — there’s no price for that. We’re paying good money for this service because it’s worth good money. I just wish Montreal West and Hampstead could avail themselves of that service, too.”