B.C. paramedics lose station, say public is at risk
Published Thursday, December 23, 2010 6:00PM PST
Paramedics in Port Moody, B.C. are feeling uneasy after their headquarters was shut down. Despite their worries, officials insist that public safety is not at risk.
The decision to shut down Port Moody's only ambulance station -- previously located next to the fire station -- could put the city's 30,000 residents at risk, according to Bob Parkinson of the paramedics' union.
The City says it needs room to start building a new fire hall, which means that paramedics must now roam Port Moody in their ambulances.
"If they have to use a washroom -- use a gas station," Parkinson said.
If ambulances need to be cleaned up, the nearest station is now several kilometers away at Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam.
"If they have to decontaminate they have to head to Coquitlam. It can be up to an hour," Parkinson said.
Port Moody paramedics respond to about 1,100 calls each year.
Mayor Joe Trasolini says that the B.C. Ambulance Service reneged on a deal to allow the base to move into the police station and refused to chip in for space in the new fire hall.
"We get told they do want a station in Port Moody and yet they have backed off," Trasolini said. "We said ‘hold on -- last time we got burned -- this time you have to commit and share some of the cost of the planning process,' and they refused."
Michael Sanderson, executive director of the B.C. Ambulance Service, blames a funding tug-of-war.
"The city wanted cash up front," he said.
The B.C. Ambulance Service is still looking for space in Port Moody and disagrees with paramedic union's warnings.
Residents and paramedics are now hoping that the bureaucratic back-and-forth ends soon.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Lisa Rossington