Côte Saint-Luc Saves Lifesavers

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PRESS RELEASE

Côte Saint-Luc Saves Lifesavers

Côte Saint-Luc, June 30, 2008 – The City of Côte Saint-Luc is claiming a major victory in safeguarding its life-saving First Responder Service, known as Côte Saint-Luc Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
“After several years of intense lobbying legislation was adopted by the National Assembly securing the future for CSL EMS as the sole First Response authority in the City of Côte Saint-Luc,” said Mayor Anthony Housefather. “We will continue to safeguard the residents of our community 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” the Mayor added.
“CSL EMS has more medical training, responds faster to more calls, and can respond rapidly to multiple simultaneous emergency calls,” said CSL Public Safety Councillor Glenn J. Nashen. Nashen has been involved with the service for more than 25 years.

“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,” Nashen said.

EMS medics are highly trained and dedicated personnel who volunteer their time and efforts to serve the community 24/7. They are overseen by a director and an emergentologist, as well as by an oversight committee of elected, lay and professional leaders.

EMS is equipped with a fleet of three emergency vehicles, state-of-the-art emergency medical equipment, tools and supplies, all housed in headquarters at 8100 Côte Saint-Luc Road.

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,” Nashen said. “Rapid response time by EMS can mean the difference between life and death,” he added. Volunteer medics are in uniform and in station or patrolling the community 24 hours a day.

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Letters re: Saving EMS

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Letter to the editor, Union undermines
The Suburban
January 16, 2008

Hal Newman said on Dec. 19 (re: “Think of the patients first!”) that debate between Côte St. Luc EMS and the Montreal fire department over response times of first responders is silly. Côte St. Luc has no desire to have public arguments with the fire department, however we will respond to misstatements about our pioneering EMS service.

Ever since our city council and our MNA Lawrence Bergman convinced the Quebec government to table legislation to save our EMS, the Montreal firefighters union has tried to undermine the decision by sending demonstrably false press releases and newspaper ads.

The firefighters union is trying to push aside an established and well-respected volunteer service. The union wants a monopoly and doesn’t want to be compared to better-trained volunteers, who speak more languages and have a long-term connection to the community they serve.

Fortunately, the Quebec government has looked at the facts and agrees that our pioneering first responder service should be preserved in Côte St. Luc.

Mayor Anthony Housefather
Councillor Glenn J. Nashen

Côte Saint-Luc

Op-ed submission to The Gazette re: Montreal Firefighters Association and CSL EMS

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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.

CSL not letting up on EMS

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CSL not letting up on EMS

By Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban

June 27, 2007

Côte St. Luc will not stop lobbying for its volunteer Emergency Medical Services to continue handling extreme emergency calls, even as the Quebec government introduced a bill last week allowing the service to do just that in perpetuity, says councillor Glenn Nashen.

The bill is part of a larger one involving the responsibilities of the Montreal island-wide agglomeration council.

“It’s still a bill, not a law,” he said Thursday. “We’ll have to keep the promotion and the pressure up to make sure the parties vote to turn this into legislation. I don’t know what issue could come up, but certainly there could be some issues on the part of some people and it’s my goal to make sure this gets legislated as it’s drafted. But the context is quite positive.” Nashen added that he does not expect opposition from the Action Démocratique du Québec and the Parti Québécois.

Mayor Anthony Housefather and Nashen were very happy with the bill. Recent lobbying by Côte St. Luc along with Hampstead and Montreal West succeeded in the preservation of police station 9 despite a recommendation to merge it with Station 11 in N.D.G.

“It’s exactly what we looked for,” Housefather said in a BlackBerry interview from Barcelona, Spain. “It’s great news. We spent 30 years building up a fantastic service and we don’t hurt anybody else by keeping it. There’s no reason we can’t have a different service from everyone else on the island. The fact we demerged gave the government the latitude to grant us this exemption and treat us differently.”

“It’s a watershed moment for us,” Nashen said. “Nothing changes in terms of what we’re actually doing now. It has to go to second and third reading in the fall. It gives a new realm of excitement to the volunteers and to the whole organization, and gives us a greater opportunity to promote the service and recruit new volunteers.”

Housefather and Nashen have been intensely lobbying the Liberal government and opposition parties in recent months to not hand over responsibility for Priority 1 calls to the Montreal fire department. Original plans, the result of a collective agreement with the firefighters union, called for Priority 1 to be transferred to the fire department Jan. 1, 2009. But earlier this year, D’Arcy McGee MNA Lawrence Bergman announced to The Suburban that there would be a year’s extension to Jan. 1, 2010. The fire department will be assuming first responder responsibility for the rest of the island.

Côte St. Luc has been arguing that EMS volunteers, who stabilize patients who live in Côte St. Luc before Urgences Santé ambulances arrive, can reach emergencies faster, that its volunteers receive more training time than fire department first responders, are extra sensitive to the local senior population, speak many languages and have been trained to deal with cultural sensitivities.

The city also launched an intense local campaign, setting up a http://www.SaveEMS.com website and circulating a petition.

CSL’s EMS ‘saved’ by provincial government exemption

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CSL’s EMS ‘saved’ by provincial government exemption
Martin C. Barry
West End Chronicle
June 27, 2007

Elected officials in Côte St. Luc are applauding a Quebec government proposal that could effectively save the City’s highly-valued EMS service, by allowing it to respond to Priority One emergency medical calls on a permanent basis.

“This is a watershed moment for Côte St. Luc,” Councillor Glenn Nashen, the commissioner for public safety on city council, said last week, following the government’s announcement.

“When this bill is adopted, we will be guaranteed a continuation of fast and highly trained personnel, focusing entirely on pre-hospital emergency medical care,” he added.

During the years of the forced municipal mergers, the City of Montreal signed a collective agreement with the firefighters union that gave them responsibility to respond to life-threatening emergencies across the island, including Côte St. Luc.

Following its demerger from the mega-city on January 1, 2006, the new Côte St. Luc city council worked with D’Arcy McGee Liberal MNA Lawrence Bergman to safeguard EMS, resulting in a three-year exemption so it could continue to respond to Priority One emergency calls until Dec. 31, 2008.

The proposed Quebec law tabled last Friday effectively makes permanent the exemption. Nashen said the law, if enacted, would be passed when the National Assembly resumes sitting, following the summer break, next autumn.

“The continued operations of EMS will be felt by the community for years into the future,” said Mayor Anthony Housefather. “Côte St. Luc and its residents will continue to work with the government and all parties in the legislature to ensure the proposal is adopted.”

Housefather thanked Bergman for his assistance, as well as councillors Nashen and Ruth Kovac, for the work they did to support and enhance the life-saving service. He also recognized the efforts of the other members of city council and the thousands of residents who circulated petitions and wrote letters to the Liberal government.

Leading up to the outcome, Housefather corresponded with all 125 MNAs in the National Assembly on the EMS issue. Together with Nashen, he also held numerous meetings with union and civic leaders and other concerned parties. Housefather finally received a commitment from Quebec Minister of Municipal Affairs, Nathalie Normandeau.

“I want to thank Minister Normandeau very much,” said Housefather. “She made the effort to truly consider the needs of Côte St. Luc and appreciated the investment we have made to build an incredible service that needs to continue as is.” With Nashen and Kovac, he praised the EMS volunteers for their dedication and commitment to the community and for riding out the uncertainty.

Côte St. Luc EMS is the only volunteer-based first responder service on the island. It answers 3,000 calls every year, including 1,500 which are Priority One. The service is made up of trained volunteers under the guidance of an emergency room physician.

A committee of elected, lay and professional leaders in the Emergency Services Committee also oversee operations. The EMS service is equipped with a fleet of three emergency vehicles, emergency medical equipment, and other tools and supplies. The annual budget exceeds $500,000.

Cheers greet news emergency service could be saved

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Cheers greet news emergency service could be saved
ANNE SUTHERLAND
The Gazette
June 22, 2007

Cheers were heard from elected representatives, a senior activist and the head of the volunteer medical squad when they heard that a clause in the provincial government’s taxation and Montreal agglomeration bill tabled yesterday could save the Cote St. Luc Emergency Medical Services.

“I’m thrilled,” Cote St. Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather said. “We’ve spent two years lobbying on every level for this. I’m incredibly pleased and happy.”

“It’s a huge relief and we’re confident this bill will go through,” added Stephane Kallos, director of the Emergency Medical Services.

“Our volunteers are very motivated; we’re in the area all the time and we have an EMS that other parts of the city should be jealous of. This is absolutely incredible news,” Kallos added.

“Isn’t that marvellous? This is just tremendous. I’m thrilled to bits,” said Kathleen O’Reilly, a resident of St. Patrick Square seniors residence, who had collected signatures on a petition to save the EMS.

“In our building there are 250 units and the EMS comes here at least three times a week,” said O’Reilly, vice-president of the home’s residents association.

“They are so courteous and so polite and they are there in minutes.”

For 25 years, Cote St. Luc has operated an independent volunteer EMS unit, with three vehicles and 75 staff. The EMS responds to 3,000 calls every year. One-quarter of Cote St. Luc’s residents are over age 65.

In 2004, the city of Montreal introduced a plan that would give first-responder duties to the Montreal fire department. The plan was approved by the provincial government.

At that time, Cote St. Luc was part of Montreal because of forced municipal mergers.

Lawrence Bergman, the MNA for D’Arcy McGee riding, which includes Cote St. Luc, got the province to grant the suburb a reprieve that would guarantee its EMS operations till Dec. 31, 2008.

In 2004, the residents of Cote St. Luc voted overwhelmingly to demerge from the city of Montreal. Cote St. Luc became autonomous once more in January 2006.

Housefather went to the island council this year to plead his case that Cote St. Luc preserve its EMS services by getting an exemption to the island-wide edict giving all priority calls to the firefighters. His resolution was voted down.

The mayor said yesterday’s news reinforces his belief that Cote St. Luc made the right choice in demerging.

“If we hadn’t left the city of Montreal, we would have lost this service,” Housefather said.

“Something like this just shows the value of demerger.”

Glenn Nashen, the Cote St. Luc municipal councillor responsible for public safety, said his city will have a guarantee of a very high level of EMS service after the bill is adopted.

“It’s a win-win situation for everyone,” Nashen said.

asutherland@thegazette.canwest.com

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