Cote Saint-Luc can keep its first responders

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Cote Saint-Luc can keep its first responders
Volunteer-based emergency team.  Only area on island with such an arrangement.

July 3, 2008
The city of Cote St. Luc has secured the right to keep its Emergency
Medical Services team of first responders from being swallowed by the city
of Montreal with the passage of Bill 22 on June 20.

The volunteer-based service responds to emergency calls and stabilizes
people in distress until an ambulance arrives to take them to hospital.
Cote St. Luc is the only area on the island to have complete jurisdiction
over first responders.

Montreal’s agglomeration council initially turned down Cote St. Luc’s
request to keep its EMS in favour of a uniform first- responder service
for the entire island provided by the city’s fire department.

The demerged city took its fight to the National Assembly where it secured
a legal exemption.
“We weren’t interested in a one-size-fits-all solution for the fire
department for the entire island,” Cote St. Luc city councillor Glenn
said. “We were interested in what works best for the city of Cote
St. Luc, which is why a vast majority of (residents) decided to demerge
from Montreal,” Nashen said.

The Cote St. Luc EMS draws from a pool of 70 volunteers who have received
more than double the amount of training legally required in emergency
medical response by the province, Nashen said.

The organization is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is
often able to respond to a call within three minutes, he said.

But Michel Crevier, president of the city of Montreal firefighters union,
disputed the claim Côte St. Luc’s EMS team is available 24/7 and said the
decision by the province is “absurd.”

“Just for a small city like this, were opening up an issue of the
agglomeration of capital importance. We are opening up a door to the
entire group of demerged municipalities,” he said.

Crevier said it would take less than five minutes to get a response team
in to Cote St. Luc and added that it’s “completely ridiculous” for
volunteers to replace professionals, whom he said are better equipped for
the job.

Thirty-nine of the island’s 66 fire stations have employees trained in
emergency response, said Claude Dauphin, mayor of Lachine, president of
Montreal’s executive committee and the member responsible for public
safety. All the stations should have a unit by the end of next year, he

Cote St. Luc’s emergency service has the support of Urgences Santé,
which transports residents to hospital after being stabilized by the EMS

“In general, it’s going very well,” said Urgences Santé spokesperson
André Champagne.

Melanie Fortier, a spokesperson for the office of Nathalie Normandeau,
minister for regional and municipal affairs, said it was a “historical
decision,” to allow Cote St. Luc to keep it EMS service.

“It’s a service that works well. It always did,” she said.

© The Gazette (Montreal) 2008

Cycling in a new direction

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Cycling in a new direction, Gazette editorial, 2002-05-27