Rabbi Bright: Withholding CPR was “Foolish, cold-hearted” government policy

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Shaare Zedek Congregation Rabbi Alan W. Bright slammed the Quebec department of health for its decision to withhold CPR during the pandemic, a policy he called “foolish and cold-hearted.”

“How would you feel if your loved one died because of a misguided government policy,” the rabbi said during his December 5 Shabbat sermon. “Not only would I be horrified, I’d be angry,” the rabbi said.

Rabbi Bright said an unknown number of Montreal and Laval families are wondering if their deceased loved ones might be alive today if it weren’t for a horrible policy from the Quebec health ministry from April 4 to September 21 of this year. The order was only cancelled, he said, in response to a request by the ambulance service’s union.

Rabbi Bright emphasized that none of his comments are meant as criticism of doctors, front line workers or paramedics.

In delivering his sermon Rabbi Bright said that the policy violated several principles of the Quebec College of Physicians. He also said that, “the Torah and Rabbinical literature are full of examples of the value placed on human life and how cautious we are to be.”

The rabbi applauded the Urgences Sante paramedic’s union for speaking up. “Clearly the medics weren’t comfortable in not taking action.”

“There is no justification for the government’s callous policy. It is disgraceful,” Rabbi Bright lamented. He went on in telling his congregants, most of whom were watching online from home, that Suburban Newspaper editor, Beryl Wajsman, called the policy, ‘state sanctioned manslaughter.

“We must not let fear of a virus reduce the value of human life,” the rabbi implored. “Everyone is entitled to the best treatment that medicine can provide.”

Rabbi Bright is a highly respected, intellectual and eloquent spiritual leader. He is serving in his twentieth year as clergy at Shaare Zedek Congregation in NDG. He previously served as a captain in the US Air Force.

CSL’s EMS did not withhold CPR: Suburban

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As I stated here last week we cannot give enough thanks to our first responders. This issue shows how incredibly lucky we are in Cote Saint-Luc to have our own, unique first responder service.

I heard back from several friends at Urgences Santé on this story and I underscore that their dedication and efforts, especially during this pandemic are nothing short of heroic. Special shout out to my old friend Brian who took time to update me on the matter.

Back here in Cote Saint-Luc, I salute all of our volunteers with CSL EMS along with CSL Public Security Director Philip Chateauvert and Manager Jean-Marc Dubois. Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and the city administration have gone above and beyond in doing their utmost to protect our city. How fortunate we are to have their leadership.

CSL EMS continued CPR

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News broke earlier in the week that the Montreal and Laval ambulance service, Urgences Santé, withheld cardio-pulmonary (CPR) resuscitation from some cardiac arrest victims. This policy was reportedly in effect from April through September in order to protect ambulance crews and overcrowded hospitals.

Many questions remain unanswered: How many people were affected by this policy where no attempt was made to resuscitate them? Why was this not announced to the public? Did Montreal Fire Department First Responders also abide by this plan?

We are learning that Cote Saint-Luc Emergency Medical Services was not required to abide by this highly contentious rule. CSL EMS is staffed round the clock by highly trained volunteers. CSL is the only municipality on the Island of Montreal, and pretty much in the region, to have its own life saving volunteer service. They respond to about 3000 top priority 911 medical emergencies each year.

While CSL EMS was shut down for the first few months of the pandemic in order to retrain in response protocols and equip volunteers with PPE, once back up they continued to answer all urgent calls.

“There have been no changes in protocols affecting how we assess which patients can receive CPR,” CSL Director of Public Safety Philip Chateauvert told me. “EMS continued to perform CPR on patients including those in asystole or with pulseless electrical activity as per the provincial protocols.”

This comes as a relief to residents of CSL, who have placed their trust in our dedicated lifesavers, volunteers who rush to assist at any hour of day or night and evidently even at increased risk during this unprecedented pandemic.

I called Mayor Mitchell Brownstein to commend the city for maintaining EMS and to thank our heroic First Responders. As a medic with CSL EMS and with Urgences Sante, for some three decades, I fully understand the passion and devotion that these fine men and women possess in serving the public during the most difficult of circumstances.

Mayor Brownstein has stood out among civic leaders in Quebec. He was first to call upon the government to mandate mask-wearing and has been at the forefront in keeping his city residents safe. “Our EMS is an outstanding service for all of our residents and visitors,” Brownstein told me this week. “We are so fortunate to be able to rely upon these amazing volunteers, especially during this incredibly challenging year.”

I salute our CSL EMS First Responders along with their dedicated staff, Philip Chateauvert and Jean-Marc Dubois. As well, a tip of the mask, errr hat, to Mayor Brownstein and the city administration for doing their utmost to protect our city. I may not agree with every measure (bring back vCOP!) but credit where credit is due. CSL remains a well informed community with excellent communications from city hall.

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No CPR by Urgences Santé from April to September 2020

No CPR by Urgences Santé from April to September 2020

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Certains patients n’ont pu être réanimés par les ambulanciers cet été | Le Devoir

Montreal paramedics were told not not to perform CPR on some people whose hearts had stopped for five months this year, since it was seen as too risky at a time when COVID-19 wasn’t well understood.

The regional Emergency Medical Ambulance Services for Montreal and Laval, Urgences Santé, reportedly stopped performing Cardio-pulmonary Resuscitation for patients in cardiac arrest last April as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In an effort to protect ambulance crews (paramedics) and in order not to overwhelm hospitals a decision was made to not perform the life-saving procedure, known as CPR.

This information, only coming to light in local media reports today, is quite distressing. With hundreds of ambulance calls each day how many patients were not saved as a result of this policy? Why was this policy not disclosed at that time? Were families informed at each call? Did this policy extend to the Montreal Fire Department First Responders as well?

On a local level, did Cote Saint-Luc EMS, once back in service after being shutdown for several month, also abide by this policy? If so, how many cardiac arrest victims were not resuscitated? What were their ages?

These questions deserve answers. I hope local media will pursue this and inform the public.

As a former Emergency Medical Technician, with more than 18 years at Urgences Santé, I have great respect for our paramedics and know full well the stress they are under at the best of times. I have performed CPR some 125 times during my many years on the ambulance, in doctors’ cars and as a volunteer at CSL EMS. This policy would have weighed very heavy on my conscience as I’m sure it did for all ambulance crews this year. The desire to rush to assist those in need is intense and any prevention of such service is unimaginable. I hope all those paramedics are well. I also hope answers will be provided.

More:

Quebec health minister dodges question about do-not-resuscitate order to paramedics, Montreal Gazette, Nov. 24, 2020

CTV News

CTV News report

Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire (ret’d) to speak at D’Arcy McGee medal ceremony

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Birnbaum to honour WWII veteran, special needs champion, CDN community storefront and emergency food-delivery hero with D’Arcy-McGee-National Assembly Citizenship medals
David Birnbaum, MNA for D’Arcy-McGee, recently announced the winners of the sixth annual D’Arcy-McGee-National Assembly Citizenship Medals competition. A public ceremony in their honour will be held, virtually, on Tuesday, June 16th at 7 p.m. Three individuals and one organization will be recognized for “outstanding achievement in community involvement”. They are George Nashen, 96, in the name of surviving veterans of World War II and those who passed before them, Sima Paris, co-founder and President of the Friendship Circle, MultiCaf, a store-front community outreach and referral service in Snowdon-Côte-des-Neiges and David Lisbona, Côte St-Luc entrepreneur and initiator of an emergency food-delivery network for seniors during the current pandemic.
“This has been an unprecedented and trying time for all us but it has also brought out the very best in so many individuals and organizations in this riding,” said D’Arcy-McGee MNA David Birnbaum. He initiated this citizen-medal program soon after his first election in April 2014. “While the crisis around us is far from over, I think it is always the right time to recognize those who inspire us to do more and do better by our fellow citizens. Even if we can only celebrate this event virtually this year, I do hope it will lift us up at this very tough time. ”
Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire (ret’d) has kindly agreed to deliver a brief address to the Zoom gathering. His own harrowing and heroic experience during the Rwandan genocide, and his outreach efforts since retirement have made him a sought-after public speaker. His Roméo Dallaire Foundation works to inspire young people from underprivileged backgrounds to develop their leadership potential. In appreciation of Mr. Dallaire’s participation, David Birnbaum’s office has made a donation of $1,000 to the Foundation.
The medals ceremony, on Tuesday, June 16th at 7 p.m. will be held by Zoom. Here is the necessary information to join:
Meeting ID: 959 6544 8337
Meeting Password: 466851
Please contact Birnbaum’s office (514-488-7028 or david.birnbaum.dmg@assnat.qc.ca) should you require further details.
Please join me in honouring my father by tuning in on June 16 at 7PM and leaving a message on this blog post. Thank you.
-Glenn

2019_Nashen_Birnbaum

MNA David Birnbaum and George Nashen (Photo: GJ Nashen 2019)

Read more:

Video: Acceptance speech at D’Arcy McGee Citizenship Medals 2018 Ceremony

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D’Arcy McGee Medal of Citizenship of the National Assembly goes to…, Nashen Notes

D’Arcy McGee medals awarded, The Suburban

The Late Gerry Weinstein among citizenship medal recipients, Canadian Jewish News

 

 

Could CSL vCOP, PS and Police host summer camp for kids? Longueuil police host first ever camp for aspiring young detectives

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A group of kids took part in a day camp put on by the Longueuil police this week, where they got to learn about police work. (CBC)

What a novel idea in summer programming for kids. Sign up a group of pre-teens and expose them to first responders: police, fire, EMS, ambulance, public security and volunteer Citizens on Patrol. Teach them essential skills and expose them to these critical and life-saving services. Excite, inspire and educate them.

Would such a program be possible in Cote Saint-Luc and suburban Montreal municipalities? Would you sign up your pre-teen?

Source: Longueuil police host first ever camp for aspiring young detectives | CBC News

The D’Arcy McGee Medal of Citizenship of the National Assembly goes to…

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Receiving the D’Arcy McGee Medal of Citizenship of the Quebec National Assembly by (L-R) Former MNAs Robert Libman and Lawrence Bergman, current MNA David Birnbaum and Mayor Mitchell Brownstein

What a great honour in receiving the D’Arcy McGee Medal of Citizenship of the Quebec National Assembly by MNA David Birnbaum surrounded by family and friends. This annual event awards three people for their outstanding contribution to the residents and communities of the D’Arcy McGee riding.

 

 

David Birnbaum, député de D’Arcy-McGee MNA honoured three people for outstanding community service last evening at Ashkelon Gardens: Lina Fortin, me, and the late Gerry Weinstein. The winners were selected by a blue-ribbon jury of three former D’Arcy-McGee MNAs and Ministers, retired Justice Herbert Marx, Robert Libman and 20-year MNA Lawrence S. Bergman. The Victor Goldbloom Essay winner was Sarah Buzaglo, a grade 10 student at École Maïmonide.

Most of you will know that I have served in public office nearly all of my adult life. Allow me sum up this incredible journey in the form of my shift-on-duty.

Glenn J. Nashen riding aboard Cote Saint-Luc’s first Rescue Medical Fire vehicle RMF-11, 1981

 

Glenn J. Nashen, on duty, in Cote Saint-Luc’s second ever First Response vehicle

My shift begins. Fall of 1979. I’m a young First Responder in the Cote Saint-Luc Emergency Measures Organization. Dressed in a smart looking brown uniform, yellow stripe down the side of my pants, the alert tone rings and we spring into action, lights and siren blaring from our small red rescue-fire truck. An elderly person tumbles down the stairs at home. A car crashes into a light pole on Cavendish. Suddenly, a call for a cardiac arrest across the street. We respond to hundreds of emergencies, on every street in CSL. And that’s just the early morning.

 

I rise through the ranks of EMO and EMS, promoting citizen CPR training and pushing for Automated Defibrillators in public buildings and public vehicles, relentlessly championing for recognition of paramedics across Quebec, and advocating for air ambulance helicopters for the outlying regions.

Cote Saint-Luc EMO launched my side-career as an Urgences-Santé ambulance technician in 1980

It’s a busy shift and we are only in the mid-80s. My uniform changes colour, and so does the vehicle, as I find myself riding aboard yellow ambulances and doctors cars with Urgences Santé. Racing to life and death situations, performing CPR 125 times, bringing some people back to life and even delivering a baby. What a privilege. What responsibility at a pretty young age, to be in a position to make a profound difference in someone’s life during their moment of highest anxiety.

Councillors Glenn J. Nashen and Ruth Kovac enrolled at the Emergency Preparedness College of Canada 1991

My shift continues, it’s 1990, and I’m elected as the youngest member on city council. My first priority is to make cycling safer and CSL adopts the first bicycle helmet bylaw in the country! I play a leading role during major floods, the infamous Ice Storm, preparing for doomsday during Y2K, you remember year 2000!

Newspaper ad from June 2005 commemorating the 1st anniversary of the demerger referendum by the Cote Saint-Luc Demerger Committee Co-Chairs

No rest on this patrol. It’s the early 2000s and Anthony, Ruth, Mitch and I are up for the biggest challenge, to get our City back… and saving our EMS and keeping our police and our fire stations from closure.

The men and women of Cote Saint-Luc volunteer Citizens on Patrol

It’s time for a lunch break when a great idea strikes me… It’s 2005, CSL is about to be back in our own hands again, and I decide that we need to harness the energy of more volunteers to ensure CSL’s place as the safest community on the Island of Montreal. We need to enlist more volunteers, retirees, a group of neighbours watching out for neighbours. After lunch I set out on founding the volunteer Citizens on Patrol organization. We launch on Canada Day 2006. Now suited up in a bright orange polo top and in marked vans, scooters and bikes, we continue our patrol through the streets and parks and municipal facilities.

Fmr. Cllr. Glenn J. Nashen and Supervisor Mitchell Herf inaugurate the newest vCOP electric scooters

We stop to alert a resident that they forgot to close their garage door, a possible theft averted. We remind another to keep the emergency lane clear at the mall, we get the finger on that one, but that’s OK. All in a day’s volunteer work. An elderly couple thanks us for changing the battery in their smoke detector. We block a street from traffic and hold onlookers back as the fire department douses a house fire. Over to check on the home of vacationers. Then, we assist the police in looking for a missing child and we reunite the frightened youngster with their relieved parents. We feel pride and satisfaction knowing we’ve helped. We’ve made a difference. We’ve given our time but we’ve gained so much in return.

My first public council meeting as Mayor of Cote Saint-Luc, November 9, 2015

My shift isn’t quite done and yet another quick uniform change. This time for a two-month stint as mayor of CSL in 2015. What was once just a dream actually became a reality.

 

And as we head back to the station to wrap up this shift for today, in 2018, I can see how my my parents gave me the keys to these patrol vehicles, for this mission to Repair the World.

Receiving the D’Arcy McGee Medal of Citizenship with my parents, George and Phyllis Nashen (June 19, 2018)

So thank you mom, who just celebrated her 90th birthday and thank you dad, who is three days shy of his 95th. Thank you for these important life lessons in public service and looking out for one’s neighbour.

 

These lessons were also fueled by my wife, Judy, who’s always ready to give her utmost to her patients and to the community and together we are handing over these keys to our children, Nicole, Nathalie and Jeremy.

Glenn J. Nashen, Judy Hagshi with Nicole, Nathalie and Jeremy Nashen (*June 19, 2018)

So I close by again thanking my wife and children, because when my proverbial uniform went on, they knew that it meant I’d be away from the house again and again and again. Public service, and long shifts, do come at a very high cost!

 

My wife says this about me: My heart is in Cote Saint-Luc and Cote Saint-Luc is in my heart. I feel that way too about our beautiful province and our amazing country. And I hope that one day my tour of duty will continue and my unquenchable need to Repair the World (Tikun Olam) will take off in some new direction to make this place the very best for all of us.

 

Thank you as well to our incredible life-saving volunteers at CSL EMS and to our dedicated and unstoppable volunteers in vCOP.

Thank you David and our former MNAs Herbert, Robert and Lawrence for this great honour. And thank you for reading this and for “joining” me on today’s shift. I appreciate all the good wishes and support I receive from family, friends and members of the community.

 

Congratulations to my fellow laureates, Lina Fortin and the family of the late Gerry Weinstein

 

Celebrating with the Pressers (Sandie and Robert) and Fabians (Leslie, Ricki, Jamie and Sammi)

 

My longtime friend and fellow vCOP volunteer Mitchell Herf

 

Sharing the good vibes and smiles with my colleagues Stephanie Malley and Marisa Rodi

 

Siempre me complace celebrar con mis amigos cercanos Natalia y Pablo

 

D’Arcy McGee National Assembly Citizenship Medal Ceremony (Photo Darryl Levine)

 

Friends from way back to Bialik days, Ben Burko (and son Milo) and Gary Polachek

 

Mitchell Brownstein and I go way, way back. I am so proud of my friend the mayor and pleased to celebrate with him.

 

David Birnbaum and Glenn J. Nashen (Photo Darryl Levine)

 

Former Quebec Cabinet Minister Lawrence Bergman and I have had a wonderful relationship over the years. He has been a friend and a mentor.

 

Gracias Miguel Banet y Lulu Brenner por venir y mostrar tu amor y apoyo

 

 

CSL Men’s Club gala raises funds for Canadian Magen David Adom

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The Côte St. Luc Men’s Club hosted an “Evening of Entertainment” last week at the city’s Aquatic and Community Centre to raise funds for Canadian Magen David Adom for Israel.

CMDA sends ambulances and medical supplies to Magen David Adom for use in Israel.

On hand were CMDA president Michael I. Levine, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Côte St. Luc council members, D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum, Beth Tikvah Rabbi Emeritus Mordecai Zeitz and many others. Cantor Yossi Pomerantz, accompanied by Joseph Milo, sang; and humourist Al Kustanowitz performed.

The event also marked the donation of ambulances, medical emergency scooters and funds for medical equipment to Israel. One ambulance, displayed at the event, was donated by the Men’s Club; and by Simon and Fagey Rossdeutscher and Judith and Harry Rossdeutscher in memory of their families who perished in the Holocaust.

“Almost a year ago, I decided that as the Men’s Club is growing enormously, we should do something special for the State of Israel, where I’ve been many, many times,” said Men’s Club president Syd Kronish. “I went to see Sidney Benizri, executive director of CMDA, and for 40 minutes, he showed me what Magen David Adom accomplishes for Israel. I decided that’s for us.

“The Men’s Club took all of our smaller donations and we contributed the other half for the ambulance,” he explained. “Four of our members, including myself, each bought a medical scooter, which cost $32,000. They are already in Israel.”

The Rossdeutscher family has been involved with CMDA for more than 30 years and has donated at least several other ambulances over the years, including one dedicated to the memory of Rabbi Sidney Shoham of Beth Zion Synagogue.

Another ambulance was donated by Derek and Richard Stern and Families. Mayoral candidate Robert Libman was on hand for the event, representing the Stern family.

Benizri, who is also a Côte St. Luc councillor, was very appreciative.

“It was a pleasure working with the Executive Committee and the members of the Cote St. Luc Men’s Club for the past seven months and I am very grateful to them for undertaking this initiative, ‘Evening of Entertainment,’ to benefit Canadian Magen David Adom,’ Benizri said. “They are motivated and dedicated to the cause of helping Magen David Adom continue to offer lifesaving and humanitarian services to anyone in the State of Israel and abroad when called upon to do so.”

Benizri also thanked the Rossdeutscher family for the new ambulance, the Stern family for the other ambulance and other families for the medical scooters.

The scooters were presented to the people of Israel by Sheila and Nat Agensky in memory of Brian Agensky; by Marion and Lazarus Caplan; by Elaine and Syd Kronish; Steven, Etty, Samantha and David Kronish; and the Spector Family. As well, Harriet and Harry Fried made a major donation for medical equipment.

The balance of the gala evening’s proceeds “will be used to provide essential medical equipment for MDA Israel paramedics and first responders,” says a CMDA statement.

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What a great feeling to see the Cote Saint-Luc Men’s Club emblem on this ambulance destined for Israel. Judy and I were thrilled to be able to participate and contribute in a small but meaningful way.

 

Magen David Adom is innovative in their ability to outfit a scooter with emergency medical equipment to respond rapidly to urgent calls even with congested streets in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. We can learn a lot from them.

How will we recognize police without clown pants?

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Montreal police dressed in militia gear blocking city hall doors (Source: Sun Media)

Montreal police dressed in militia gear blocking city hall doors (Source: Sun Media)

Police who continue to sport camouflage pants on duty could face fines of $500 to $3,000 for each day they wear them under new legislation proposed by the Liberal government, reports the Montreal Gazette.

After three useless, sad years of vandalism of police cars (and fire trucks and ambulances with union stickers) and wearing camouflage and clown pants, the government has finally awoken to put an end to this lawless fashion flap.

I said early on that it was not fair to claw back on pensions that were already agreed to and that any changes ought to affect new officers or else be renegotiated within their collective agreements.

police_clown_pants_camouflage

Montreal Police in camouflage pants (Photo: McGill Daily)

 

Forget that there are so many police officers earning in excess of $100,000 per year and the time-and-a-half pay for standing at intersections pushing traffic buttons, three times the going rate for trained civilians. These folks put their lives on the line, after-all, to protect us and deserve to be reasonably well paid for doing so. And they normally deserve our respect and appreciation.

But, their protest have gone much too far. Three years were three years too long.

They also should have no right to deface their patrol cars. Same for the firefighters and Urgences Santé ambulance technicians. This is public property and no one has the right to cause such damage without penalty. If you did it you’d be held accountable. Why not them?
These public safety professionals have caused immeasurable harm to their own brand. They have lost respect from the public they serve. People laughed at first the they ignored the outlandish uniforms altogether. How sad.
What kind of a message was that for our children? Shameful, I say.
And the proposed legislation doesn’t go far enough. What about the cars and trucks and ambulances?  What about our firefighters and ambulance techs? And what about our local public security forces? Hopefully these folks will finally understand it’s time to pull up their pants – their uniform pants – and start off their next shift while putting their best foot forward. It’s time to earn back the respect they lost.

police_clown_pants

Montreal Police officers in “clown” pants. (Photo: Canoe.com)

 

Read my previous posts:

Police and firefighters should wear their own pants

Painting fire trucks black endangers the public

The power of teamwork

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Pedestrian struck by a vehicle on Kildare Road attended to by emergency personnel (Photo courtesy CSL Public Safety)

Reporting by Jordy Reichson, Director, CSL Public Safety

We are fortunate in Cote Saint-Luc to work together as a team, along with police, fire and ambulance, all to improve the level of care that we offer our residents.

Here, EMS, Urgences-santé, the Montreal Police (SPVM) and Public Security work together to care for a woman who was hit by a car while crossing Kildare. The scene was secured while the patient was immobilised and transported to hospital.

The pedestrian appears to have been crossing when the red hand signal was illuminated and the driver did not see her until it was too late.

This should serve as a reminder to all – motorists, cyclists and pedestrians – to obey the lights.

Railway fire and explosions rock Cote Saint-Luc in Tabletop Exercise

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Emergency service leaders, city service directors, elected officials and community partners ‘raced’ to Cote Saint-Luc City Hall’s Emergency Operations Centre Thursday morning for a mock rail disaster. The exercise was coordinated by Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson in conjunction with Montreal Agglomeration’s Public Safety Centre.

The live action exercise included Montreal agglomeration police and fire services, Urgences Santé ambulance services, CP Police, West-Central Montreal Health, Federation CJA’s community security branch along with all services in the city of CSL.

CSL Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson oversees the Emergency Operations Centre

The scenario involved an overnight train derailment that resulted in a fire and explosion, just east of the Westminster underpass, affecting 250 residents requiring immediate evacuation. Water and electricity was cut off. City personnel established an evacuation centre at the aquatic and community centre on Parkhaven at Mackle. Reichson gave orders to all service directors to huddle and coordinate with their first responders and personnel.

As city councillor responsible for emergency preparedness I can attest that it is evident why CSL is renowned for its level of readiness. The ongoing training, testing and preparing are well worth the investment in time and resources.

Police Commander Jean O’Malley confers with Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson. Executive Assistant Tammy McEwan keeps tabs on all decisions.

In this mock scenario I served as official spokesperson for the city in partnership with Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, and neighboring municipalities and boroughs. A mock press conference was set up to inform our residents.

Several issues arose for the members of the Emergency Operations Centre to deal with on an urgent basis including diminished air quality, wind direction, sheltering of animals, providing kosher and non-kosher food, evacuation of mobility reduced residents and babies, registering residents willing to take in evacuees, distribution of drinking water and more.

Director Jordy Reichson consults with Cllr. Glenn J. Nashen

Participants dealt with a spreading power outage affecting the whole city. Traffic lights were out. Expectations were two days to restore all to normal.

The three hour scenario demonstrated the participant’s ease in dealing with unraveling urgent situations and in collaborating around the table to ensure the safety of our residents. Discussions, swinging back and forth effortlessly in French and English, flowed smoothly and in a spirit if great cooperation.

Montreal Fire Department Division Chief Martin Ferland and Police Commander Jean O’Malley update the leaders in the Cote Saint-Luc Emergency Operations Centre

Cote Saint-Luc residents can take pride in knowing that their emergency, city and community services along with mayor and councillors hold these exercises from time to time and place such a high priority in testing their skills and readiness. Through these exercises improvements and adjustments can be made, professional skills developed and relationships enhanced to be well prepared for the real deal.

On behalf of our residents, thank you to our dedicated leaders around the tabletop mock disaster. Your commitment to emergency services and to our residents and community is exemplary and greatly appreciated. Thank you to Sid-Ali Talbi of Centre de sécurité civile de Montréal and CSL Public Safety Chief Philippe Chateauvert and kudos to Jordy Reichson for his leadership in orchestrating a successful demonstration and return to normalcy for our city.

Councillor Ruth Kovac and I have been involved in emergency preparedness in Cote Saint-Luc for 36 years. I was involved in EMO in the 1987 floods and we both participated in leading city services in the 1998 Ice Storm and in preparation for Y2K. We’ve taken part in many exercises over the years and we were very impressed in how these leaders came together to deal with a sudden, life-threatening crisis in a calm and professional manner.

We’re in good hands in Cote Saint-Luc!

For more information on emergency preparedness in Cote Saint-Luc and to learn what you can do to better prepare your own family please visit the CSL Emergency Preparedness page here or GetPrepared.ca.

Letter: Hand over responsibility for ambulances to the municipal level

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THE GAZETTE JULY 18, 2014

Re: “A critical need for better ambulance service” (Editorial, July 16)

This is an excellent editorial about the substandard level of the pre-hospital emergency medical care across Quebec. Sadly, there have been many excellent editorials over the decades just like this one.

Many of us have been advocating for the recognition of Advanced Care (Advanced Life Support) Paramedics for 30 years as Quebec lags woefully behind its neighbours. While “Paramedic” is now emblazoned across our ambulances, the term gives a false expectation to the public.

We continue to lose our most skilled ambulance technicians to other jurisdictions. Quebecers need not suffer, or die, before getting to the hospital when there are so many eager ambulance technicians available and willing to be trained to perform at a much higher level.

The lack of transparency, lengthy response times and fleet availability in the regional ambulance service cited by the editorial is fixable. Hand over the service to the municipal level. Fire and police services for the Montreal Island are not run by the province, nor should they be. The same stands true for ambulance services. The level closest to the citizen will result in better care and a higher quality of services.

Glenn J. Nashen

City Councillor

Côte-St-Luc

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Editorial: A crucial need for better ambulance service

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Gazette Editorial, July 16, 2014

Not that long ago, calling an ambulance in Montreal often meant summoning a vehicle from a funeral home. True, the optics weren’t good, but emergency response in those days was a private business — and a competitive one. Funeral home station wagons could carry stretchers, so they took calls.

Emergency services have come a long way since then. They are now highly professionalized and centrally coordinated. Montreal police took over ambulance service starting in 1958, and Urgences-Santé was established in 1989 to cover Montreal Island and Laval, although Côte-St-Luc maintains its own supplementary first-responder service. But the reality is the greater Montreal region today lags behind almost every other jurisdiction in Canada and the U.S. in pre-hospital emergency care. And now our shortcomings have been highlighted once again as the union representing almost 1,000 Urgences-Santé employees threatens pressure tactics as they negotiate a new contract.

Quebec may call those first responders ambulance paramedics, but the vast majority are not trained — and not permitted — to provide the same level of emergency care that is allowed in other jurisdictions. For years, the Collège des Médecins, and the professional order of nurses, have jealously guarded the right to perform “medical acts.”

When Premier Philippe Couillard was health minister a decade ago, a pilot project created 18 new “advanced care paramedics” — trained in Ontario for work in Quebec. But until two years ago, they still couldn’t use their new skills unless a physician was on board. Today, only 12 of those original 18 are still left; the others have left to work in cities where they have more freedom to practise independently at advanced levels.

Now the union for first responders wants to see 150 or more advanced-care paramedics in their ranks. This is a long-overdue reform. Empowered paramedics have proven to be a valuable asset outside of Quebec, not a public-health liability.

A broader challenge for Urgences-Santé, however, lies in improving its basic response times. The ambulance operator claims its average response time, for the highest priority calls in Montreal and Laval, is 7.04 minutes. But anecdotal evidence, from both patients and first responders, casts doubt on this. There are times when there are no ambulances in Laval, and vehicles are directed there from as far away as LaSalle. Urgences-Santé has denied a Gazette access-to-information request to open its books, so there is no way to tell how response time is being calculated.

The lack of transparency is troubling, but there’s reason to suspect that there simply aren’t enough ambulances and paramedics. In fact, the union is asking for 20 more ambulances and 40 more paramedics as part of its contract talks. The government, as overseer of health care in Quebec, should take this bargaining period as an opportunity to review the entire structure of Urgences-Santé. In Toronto and Ottawa, ambulance services are run by a body accountable to the cities, rather than the provincial government. At the same time, user fees should be reviewed, and brought into line to support higher standards of service, especially as the population ages.

Ambulance services aren’t entirely unwritten by the public purse. People pay out of their own pocket; a ride to the hospital costs a basic $125 and $1.75 per kilometre. There are exceptions — those on welfare, those over 65, anyone involved in a car crash or a workplace accident. But the rates haven’t changed since 1997; meanwhile, services still trail other jurisdictions.

None of these issues are new — but they are still issues of life and death, and they deserve closer public attention than they are getting.

A healthy ambulance service needs advanced care paramedics

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Opinion by PHIL MCHUGH, SPECIAL TO THE GAZETTE JULY 2, 2014

The decision last month by paramedics in Montreal and Laval to invoke pressure tactics against Urgences Santé to protest against the lack of ambulance resources is just one part of a larger problem with ambulance services in this province.

I have worked as a primary care paramedic with Urgences Santé for the past six years, and every year seems to be worse than the last.

Our response times have been unacceptable for quite some time now, and no one seems to be noticing.

However, there is a bigger problem here in Quebec, and it’s what we are doing once we arrive on the scene of an emergency.

Quebec is the only place in North America (aside from New Brunswick) where advanced care paramedics are not part of the operational routine. The rest of Canada has three levels of paramedics: primary, advanced and critical. Advanced care paramedics have more training than primary care paramedics and are able to bring the hospital emergency room, so to speak, out onto the road with them.

I completed my advanced care course in Ontario, a program that is accredited in all of Canada but not in Quebec, where it has been stuck at the pilot-project stage since 2001. Urgences Santé and the Quebec government fail to recognize my training, and keep me at the level of primary care paramedic.

For the last year, I have had to sit on my hands and watch as patients had seizures while being transported to the hospital, because I am not allowed to administer medication.

If you fall and fracture your hip in another province, the treatment you will get includes use of a scoop (a device that goes underneath you to lift you off of the floor), an IV, morphine for the pain and anti-nausea medication if you need it.

In Quebec, by contrast, you will be put in a vacuum mattress (a device that becomes rigid and acts as a full body cast), which requires a paramedic to turn you on your side, which is extremely painful if you have a hip fracture.

Why is it that we are the highest taxed citizens in North America, yet we are the only ones that don’t have access to advanced pre-hospital care?

It’s time we stand up and start demanding that we get treated just as well as our neighbours in the rest of Canada. As for me, I’ve been forced to move, to work in a province that recognizes my training and that will allow me to properly treat my patients.

Phil McHugh is moving July 7 from Montreal to Calgary, to take a job as an advanced care paramedic. He has worked the last six years with Urgences Santé.

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