While ambulance response times are reportedly too slow, Cote Saint-Luc Emergency Medical Services first responders arrive in a flash

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While the headline in today’s Journal de Quebec screams of unacceptable delays in ambulance response time, Cote Saint-Lucers should be mighty proud of their life-saving EMS First Responder Service.

From 2005 to 2015, twenty coroner reports have focused on unacceptable response time, often because of the lack of vehicles, the Journal reports.

By comparison, we are so fortunate to have the incredible dedicated and skilled volunteers at EMS to buffer us from this sad reality in Quebec. They respond in a flash, often averaging just three minutes.

Let’s celebrate CSL EMS and its incredible volunteers, especially during this National EMS Week. When you see the white, red and blue EMS First Responders in CSL, wave, give a thumbs up or blow a kiss! If you’re in line with them at Tim Horton’s, buy them a coffee. Let our volunteers know how much they are appreciated. And please leave a comment on this posting to give encouragement to our local life-savers.

Public Safety volunteers active in CSL

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Cote Saint-Luc’s Public Safety volunteers – vCOP and EMS – have been very active throughout the last months. Here is a short report highlighting some of their activities.

vCOP Smoke Detector Brigade goes door to door inspecting mandatory smoke detectors and will go so far as to install a new one (Photo: Martin Chamberland, La Presse)

vCOP Smoke Detector Brigade goes door to door inspecting mandatory smoke detectors and will go so far as to install a new one (Photo: Martin Chamberland, La Presse)

Smoke Detector Brigade 2015… a success!
The stats are in for the 2015 vCOP Smoke Detector Brigade. We are very excited by the results of this year
and as residents learn about this important service, we hope to increase our success rate in future years.

In 2016, we also look forward to continued cooperation with the Montreal Fire Department to ensure that we canvass as many doors as possible. Residents will recall that this is a free service, where a member of the vCOP
Smoke Detector Brigade will inspect their smoke detectors, replace dead batteries and install smoke
detectors where they are missing.
Between June and November 2015, the vCOP team visited 1,019 homes. 48% of residents were not home
at the time of the visit, so we will look at expanding the hours in the future. 13% of residents refused to
let the team in the house, so further publicity is needed to ease residents’ concerns. Of the 395 homes
(39%) where the vCOP team was invited in, a total of 95 batteries were changed and 59 new smoke
detectors were installed.

Fire destroys a second home in CSL in two nights

Fire destroys a second home in CSL in two nights

Three fires

The year did not start well for a family on McMurray as fire ripped through the detached bungalow. Thankfully no one was home at the time, though it did take some time to reach the owner who was out of town. The fire department responded quickly and the area was protected by police, Public Security and vCOP, while EMS had a team on stand-by.

Two more major house fires happened just a few days apart. A fire broke out just after dinner time on January 20 at a house on King Edward. Luckily, no one was home at the time as the house was being renovated. Flames and smoke could be seen from the outside and an astute taxi driver called 9-1-1 to report the fire, with our Public Security agent arriving a few minutes later. Our Public Security and EMS teams were on scene to secure the scene and provide assistance.


Two EMS members attempted to resuscitate a cat that was found in the basement, unfortunately without success.

Just before 5 AM on January 23, another fire broke out in a basement apartment on Westover Road. EMS and Urgences santé treated and transported one person, while the fire left one family homeless. They were taken care of by the Red Cross who arranged temporary lodging for the family.

croix rouge red cross montreal

An introduction to Federation CJA for local law enforcement leaders

On January 21, the leadership of the local police stations and Public Security services were invited to an
engaging session at Federation CJA. Organized by Director of Community Security Jacques Bisson, himself
a recently retired SPVM Commander, the meeting gathered the Inspectors, Commanders, Lieutenants and
Socio-Community agents of the west end stations. The Public Security services in attendance included
Côte Saint-Luc, Hampstead, Westmount, Outremont and DDO.

Photo of the Week #14: Golf Cart First Responders

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Cote Saint-Luc’s Emergency Medical Service volunteers are always ready to respond to urgent calls for help anywhere in the city.  With minimum training as First Responders, CSL EMS volunteers arrive on scene ahead of the Urgences Sante ambulance to quickly stabilize, reassure and comfort the patient.  EMS answers some 3000 calls per year originating from 911.

Pictured here are medics Isadore Friedman (left) and Benjamin Bouzo in an electric cart used at large  community events.

Diplomatic Responder

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US Consul Ian Sheridan joins CSL EMS on an observer shift. Greeting the Consul are Councillor Ruth Kovac and Public Safety Chief Jerome Pontbriand.

Cote Saint-Luc Emergency Medical Services are often on the minds of CEGEP and university students seeking to gain valuable hands-on experience in hopes of furthering a career in health care.  Some 20 and 30 year-olds join for personal interest or to give back to their community.  But never before did they do a ride-along with a member of the diplomatic corp.

Last evening, they were joined by United States Consul Ian Sheridan who expressed interest in learning more about the renowned First Responder Service when he first visited Cote Saint-Luc at the VE Day ceremony, last May.  True to his word, the U.S. Consul booked a shift and joined medic Adam Gossack, a second year medical student, for several hours on the Cote Saint-Luc EMS ambulance.

The Consul responded to an emergency call for serious hemorrhaging on MacDonald Avenue.  Now that’s what I call “cross border cooperation”.

The Boroughs of CDN-NDG and Ville-Marie will be served by Firefighter First Responders starting December 7

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The Boroughs of CDN-NDG and Ville-Marie will be served by Firefighter First Responders starting December 7

The Monitor, November 30th 2009

Serge Tremblay, Director of the Service de sécurité incendie de Montréal (SIM), is pleased to announce that the ninth and last cohort of firefighter first responders will be ready for service starting December 7, 2009, in the boroughs of Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and Ville-Marie. This step marks the end of the implementation of this service throughout the territory of the Montréal Agglomeration.

The Director is very pleased with the deployment of the cohorts of firefighter first responders on the territory of the Montréal Agglomeration. “The implementation of the medical first responder service has successfully followed its course. It will very soon be reaching its final phase, with the launch of this last cohort. Approximately 1700 firefighters of the Service de sécurité incendie de Montréal will now be certified medical first responders. This service will help SIM firefighters save more lives and will help make residents feel safer.”

The new firefighter first responders will be working at Station 4 (5260, rue Van Horne), Station 27 (5353, rue Gatineau), Station 34 (5369, chemin de la Côte-Saint-Antoine) and Station 46 (4760, avenue Cumberland) in the borough of Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce; Station 10 (1445, rue Saint-Mathieu) and Station 25 (1212, rue Drummond) in the borough of Ville-Marie as well as Station 78 (6815, chemin de la Côte-Saint-Luc) in the City of Côte Saint-Luc.

Starting December 7, all fire stations within the Agglomeration will be offering medical first responder service. All residents on the island of Montréal will be able to benefit from this service. “The fast response of firefighter first responders in critical emergency situations can make all the difference, because in such situations, every second counts. On the strength of the introduction of eight other cohorts of medical first responders since 2007, we have the confirmation that this service meets the needs of the population and that its beneficial impact was well worth the efforts invested,” added Mr. Tremblay.

Operating as a complement to Urgences-santé crews, firefighter first responders stabilize the victims’ condition while awaiting more advanced medical care from paramedics. Their response to victims in critical emergencies helps save lives and reduces potential damage. Once the medical first responder service has been completely phased-in on the territory of the Montréal Agglomeration, this will mark a transformation in the entire pre-hospital services sector in Greater Montréal.


First responders riding trucks

Firefighters trained to give medical help


DECEMBER 8, 2009 10:37 AM

Montrealers should get used to seeing fire trucks come calling when there is no fire, but a medical emergency.

That was the main message yesterday from a top-ranking fire department official as all of Montreal Island’s 65 fire stations became staffed with qualified first responders – firefighters with enough medical training to help people in distress make it until an ambulance arrives.

Richard Liebmann, chief of the fire department’s first responders division, said 1,700 of the island’s 2,300 firefighters had received the 62 hours of training to be first responders as of yesterday. The latest graduates are in fire stations 4, 27, 34 and 46 in Côte des Neiges/Notre Dame de Grâce borough and in stations 10 and 25 in western downtown, he said.

There are now at least two first responders per station per shift. The first responders now respond to all priority one calls – including when a person is in cardiac arrest, is not breathing or has had a severe allergic reaction, he said.

Ambulances are also called for those cases, and both may arrive at the scene. But there is little redundancy because ambulances typically aren’t available as quickly. “We get there more than a minute before ambulances in 90.6 per cent of the cases,” he said.

Ambulance technicians’ jobs are more time consuming, involving more advanced levels of care, transporting the patient to a hospital and transferring the patient to the hospital’s care.

First responders sent to a medical emergency do not transport patients, Liebmann said.

They are also ready and equipped to go and fight a fire if called to one, he added.

In my opinion:  It must be emphasized that the firefighter first responders will not answer emergency medical calls in the City of Cote Saint-Luc.  This is the sole responsibility of the Cote Saint-Luc Emergency Medical Services.  Also to note, Montreal firefighters will only respond to Priority 1 medical emergencies when the crew in station is available.  EMS responds to Priority 1 as well as Priority 2 medical emergencies and can often answer two, three and even four simultaneous emergency calls thanks to its numerous volunteers who remain on call round the clock.

First responder service in West Island and fight to save EMS

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Date: June 14, 2007
Source: CTV News Montreal
CTV News Montreal report on roll out of Montreal first responder service in West Island and fight to save EMS (Councillor Glenn J. Nashen and EMS Director Stephan Kallos interviewed).

Click here

CSL EMS gets extension

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CSL EMS gets extension

CSL pressing Bergman on Cavendish link, glomer

By Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban

Côte St. Luc’s volunteer Emergency Medical Services department has been given a year’s grace to continue answering Priority 1, extreme emergency calls, The Suburban learned Monday.

A Quebec law established the Montreal fire department would take over the first responder services in phases, with EMS the last to give up Priority 1 on Dec. 31, 2008, but according to D’Arcy McGee MNA Lawrence Bergman, the EMS now has until Jan. 1, 2010.

Bergman, who is Quebec revenue minister, revealed the news of the extension when The Suburban questioned him about petitions presented in his riding by Côte St. Lucers to preserve the Priority 1 service.

“I don’t want to take the credit for it,” Bergman said Monday. “It gives time to make presentations in the coming months. But for the moment, EMS remains in the community until Jan. 1, 2010.” He said the extension was granted through an administrative decision.

On Monday night, Côte St. Luc council received petitions, to be passed on to Bergman, from residents of St. Patrick Square and B’nai Brith House. Names were also collected at Manoir Montefiore, the Eleanor London Library and the Delly Boys restaurant.

Councillor Glenn Nashen, in charge of security matters on council, said the extension is not enough.

“It’s not what we’re looking for,” he said. “It’s better to have a one-year extension than not to have it, but ultimately what we’re seeking is a permanent exemption.

“We have to make long-term plans, we have vehicles that are expensive, we train people, and that’s from the city’s side. We also want to go on a new recruitment drive this year and get a lot more volunteers – people like to make commitments when they know the organization is going to be around. I don’t think the government would be very fair with us to keep stretching it out.”

Nashen said Côte St. Luc will carry on its own EMS pressure campaign “until we get exactly what we’re seeking. There’s no better time to do that than during an election campaign.” Other means of pressure include a website, saveems.com, banners being placed on local underpasses this week and information for residents about the “seriousness of the situation.”

B’nai Brith House resident Seena Aber said EMS is a “very necessary service.

“I, fortunately or unfortunately, had to use the service. They were there very fast and they make you feel very comfortable, and prepared you for when [Urgences Santé] came to take me to the hospital.”

Yetta Novak, also from B’nai Brith House, said EMS arrived to help her in three minutes, while Urgences Santé arrived 30 minutes later.

“EMS is very important,” she said.

The other major issue for Côte St. Luc is the structure of the agglomeration council, set up by the Quebec government and considered unfair by the suburbs for allowing Montreal to pass what it wants, even at the suburbs’ expense. Bergman said the issue has been greatly discussed between the mayors, and the municipal affairs minister, “and discussions continue.” Asked about the ADQ’s promise to abolish the agglomeration council, Bergman said the party’s position changes “every six months.

“During the last election, they were for municipal fusions. Their positions are always suspect – they take the flavour of the day.”

Councillor Dida Berku said a pressure campaign during an election period in general is a good idea. Berku said she has spoken to Bergman “repeatedly” about the Cavendish extension issue. She and council want the extension planning process sped up, and she wants the railways to pay full tax, rather than the 40 percent tax they have been paying for more than a decade, to help pay the estimated $100 million cost. The extension would cross railway property.

Other communities are taking a wait-and-see approach to collectively pressure the government on issues like the agglomeration council. In Hampstead, Mayor William Steinberg said he will not take a position regarding the provincial election yet, but that he may do so before election day.

But he added that individual voters can apply their own pressure.

“I do encourage voters to write, fax, e-mail and/or speak to the candidates and party leaders about the agglomeration issue,” he said.

In Montreal West, Mayor Campbell Stuart recently announced his support for the ADQ, because of its promise to dismantle the agglomeration council. Stuart said his support for the party represents his pressure campaign, and that Montreal West as a town does not have any specific plans as yet for a pressure effort.

“But I will be getting involved in the election as an advocate for the ADQ,” he said, adding that the nature of his public advocacy has not yet been determined. “I’m in, and I’ll be making my views known.”

CSL in EMS talks with neighbours

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December 12, 2005 – Cote Saint-Luc – The newly demerged City of Cote Saint-Luc (CSL) scored a major victory as its unyielding lobbying efforts to protect its unique Emergency Medical Services (EMS) has had a first major success. Mayor Anthony Housefather announced today that the Government of Quebec has issued an agglomeration decree, which guarantees that CSL will be able to keep exclusive jurisdiction for its First Responder Service until December 31, 2008. It should be noted that first response has been set out in law as an agglomeration responsibility so this exception for CSL is unique. EMS has been in existence since 1965 and has been under constant threat since the 2002 mega-merger.

Its existence was put in further peril in 2003 when Montreal’s Executive Committee adopted a collective agreement with the firefighters, which provided the fire union with an exclusive right to respond to Priority One calls. This Collective Agreement was adopted over the objection of CSL’s Emergency Services Committee chaired by Housefather and Councillor Glenn J. Nashen and despite numerous warnings Housefather, Nashen, Councillor Ruth Kovac and Councillor Dida Berku had given to the Executive Committee of the City of Montreal that this would imperil the unique CSL service.

“This is a tremendous victory for CSL,” said Mayor Housefather, adding, “Our efforts for a permanent solution will continue.” The decree gives CSL three years to convince the agglomeration to leave our service in place by modifying the next fire fighters collective agreement to exempt CSL’s unique service. It also allows us to convince the Quebec Government to make the exemption permanent.”

“EMS is a vital service for CSL and this law would never have been achieved had it not been for the incredible numbers of meetings Councillors Glenn J. Nashen, Ruth Kovac and Mitchell Brownstein and I have had with Government representatives,” Housefather said. The three councillors, along with Housefather were CSL’s demerger leaders and lobbied feverishly to save the service. “We realized that this was now or never for CSL and have done all that we can to obtain this exemption for our service. If it were not for CSL regaining its status as a municipality this would have been impossible to obtain, so we need to also thank the residents for making the right decision in deciding to demerge in June of 2004.”

“We must give tremendous thanks to our MNA, Lawrence Bergman who is Minister of Revenue in the Government of Quebec and who listened to and understood our concerns and convinced his colleagues in Cabinet to exempt our unique service,” Housefather said. “We will now work closely with Mr. Bergman to maintain this service intact beyond December 31, 2008.”

“We also want to thank Mr. Pierre Lortie and the Montreal Transition Committee and other MNAs with whom we met who supported our efforts”, said Housefather. “When we proposed putting the exemption for EMS in the draft decree we were told by many that it was impossible. It is only through a combined effort, that this could have succeeded. I also want to thank Councillor Dida Berku for her unyielding efforts to protect EMS over the last several years.”

“EMS is the only volunteer-based first responder service on the island and its training exceeds, and response time is less than, those fire stations which provided first responder service. CSL’s volunteer emergency care providers are extra sensitive to the particularly elderly population, speak a multitude of languages, and are even trained to deal with Holocaust survivors,” said Public Safety Councillor Glenn J. Nashen. Nashen has been involved with the service for more than 25 years.

Highly trained, dedicated personnel who volunteer their time and efforts to serve the community man the service. They are overseen by a director and an emergentologist serving as Medical Director, as well as by an oversight committee of elected, lay and professional leaders in the Emergency Services Committee.

EMS is equipped with a fleet of three emergency vehicles, state-of-the-art emergency medical equipment, devices, tools and supplies, all housed in headquarters at 8100 Cote Saint-Luc Road. The annual budget exceeds $400,000.

EMS responds to more than 3000 medical assistance calls each year and assists at community events, crises and other major emergencies in the community and throughout southwestern Quebec.

“EMS have shown response times averaging 3 minutes, which is the fastest average response time for first responder medical calls on the island,” Kovac said. “The significant time differential in response between EMS and those fire departments doing first responders can mean the difference between life and death in some instances,” she added.

“EMS has provided an important educational, community and volunteer opportunity to hundreds and perhaps thousands of young adults of this area and indeed the entire Montreal region, many of whom have entered the medical professions as a result of their rewarding experiences in this impressive organization,” Brownstein said.

Green light for responders

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Green light for responders


By Jason Magder, The Suburban

Good news for the rest of the island means a reduction of service for nine former municipalities as the megacity passed a motion authorizing the implementation of an island-wide first responder service.

The motion rescinded an earlier resolution calling on any first responder service to be at the pre-merger level, when first responders answered all medical calls, not only the most urgent ones. The motion also allows the remaining first responders to continue, as the fire union put a Dec. 31 deadline for the city to commit to expanding the first response service across the island. First responders respond to medical calls and stabilize patients before ambulances arrive.

Quebec agreed last week to pay for the cost of running the service across the island of Montreal, as well as the training costs to the tune of $7 million. The city will pay for the salary increases for those firefighters that elect to be trained as first responders.

Before training can begin, the city has to come to a formal agreement with the union to offer the service.

“We’re meeting with the union every day,” said Jean-Pierre Laporte, the chief of the city’s first responder division. “Negotiations are going well and we should have an agreement this week.”

However, Dollard des Ormeaux/Roxboro chairman Ed Janiszewski was not as optimistic.

“Nothing is signed yet with the union,” Janiszewski said. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Janiszewski said he hopes that the reduction to Priority 1 calls doesn’t mean that some patients will be overlooked.

“I hope that the interpretation of the calls will not be done to exclude any category one calls, because the 911 operator thought the call wasn’t serious,” Janiszewski said. “The chance to save a life might be lost if that kind of thing happens.”

Since they signed their new collective agreement with the megacity last September, firefighters have been responding only to calls listed as Priority 1 by Urgences Santé. McMurchie said that in addition to the service reduction, first responders are less available to respond to medical calls, because they are attending to more fire calls as part of the island-wide fire force.

Laporte says that the new island-wide system will allow firefighters to respond to 100 percent of all Priority 1 calls.

If a responder team is not available because the crew is being trained, it will be covered by a crew from another station.

“All the pump trucks will be staffed by first responders, so if there is a pump missing, one will come from another station to replace it,” Laporte said.

The fire force has planned for training to begin in April for the fire stations on the easternmost and western extremities of the island. The fire service has also planned how staff will fill in for those that are taking time off for training. It takes 80 hours to train a firefighter as a first responder and the trucks have to be retrofitted to respond to medical calls. Meanwhile, in Pointe Claire, there are six firefighters now trained as responders, compared to only two prior to the forced mergers. While preliminary estimates said the service will be rolled out over 18 months, the agreement with the province says it will take three years for all fire stations to offer first responder service.

Bossé, Housefather clash over EMS

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

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.

Responder deal done

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Responder deal done
By Jason Magder, The Suburban

The megacity will announce a plan tomorrow to expand first responders to every fire station on the island, executive committee public-security head Georges Bossé told the megacity council Monday night.

First responders, who currently respond to 911 medical calls in Montreal West, Westmount, Hampstead, Côte St. Luc, Outremont, Beaconsfield, Kirkland, Pointe Claire and Dollard des Ormeaux, will be expanded across the island beginning next spring.

The city has until the end of the year to come up with funding to expand the program to every fire station on the island or risk losing the service as it exists in the eight fire stations. The EMS first responder service in Côte St. Luc is administered by volunteers.

Bossé assured council an agreement with the Quebec government on a plan to fund the expansion of Montreal’s first responder system will be completed in time for a special council meeting this Friday.

“There will be a first responder service in 2005,” Bossé said. “We will have an agreement. We’re close now, but the last phraseology has not yet been completed. On Thursday, we will have an answer.”

However, the Quebec government has only agreed to fund a first responder service that would respond to the most urgent calls, categorized as Priority 1, or life-threatening, according to the current Urgences Santé code.

Bossé will ask the city council on Friday to rescind a resolution passed unanimously last year, which called for any island-wide first responder system to answer Priority 1, Priority 2 (serious but not life-threatening) and Priority 3 (non-emergency) calls.

Rescinding the resolution is vital since the megacity agreed in the collective bargaining contract with the fire union that an island-wide first responder service would only care for the most urgent calls. That agreement also put a Dec. 31, 2004 deadline for the city to commit to an expansion of the service, or the fire union would cancel all first-responder services.

Bossé said that the island-wide service would save 60 to 90 lives per year on the island. Although it would take about 18 months to train all firefighters as first responders, firefighters at stations located on the easternmost and western extremities of the island will be trained as first responders by next April.

However, the expansion of the first responder system could have serious repercussions on the volunteer-administered EMS first-responder system in Côte St. Luc. Both Bossé and union leader Gaston Fauvel have said that a first responder service in Côte St. Luc would have to be administered by the fire department once the island-wide expansion has been completed.

Time is running out for EMS

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2004-12-01 Time running out for EMS Gazette

Funding dispute could kill city’s first-response plan

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2004-11-30 Funding dispute could kill EMS, Montreal Gazette

Resolution on first responders – Resolution sur les services premier repondant, Borough – Arrondissement, Winter – Hiver 2003

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Resolution on first responders, borough, winter 2003

While I was not a member of Council in 2003, during the borough years, I worked with then Councillors Anthony Housefather and Dida Berku to draft the attached resolution to safeguard the future of EMS.

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