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General News · 6th September 2018
Chris Walker
Dear fellow Cortesians,

As you may be aware there will be an Strathcona Regional District (SRD) - hosted information meeting this coming Monday to explain the process they have chosen to determine the future of the proposed hall tax (by the South Cortes Community Association) and Certified First Responder (CFR) proposal (by the Cortes Island Fire Fighting Association, or CIFFA), and please accept my apologies for all the acronyms.

What is 'Certified First Responder' and why is the CIFFA proposing it for Cortes?

In the context of fire departments CFR refers to the added capability of properly trained volunteer firefighters to directly respond to acute medical calls and provide basic emergency medical services until the arrival of the ambulance. The addition of CFR capabilities in no way is designed to supplant our ambulance service but to support it.

We will be able to improve the existing emergency medical response in the following ways:

- Improved response times. Province wide, the average response time by BCAS in rural communities is approximately 45mins - 1hr. As a First responder department, we would be able to reduce this response time significantly and allow us to perform critical medical interventions before BCAS arrives.

- More trained personnel. This could be critical if an incident arises that creates more patients than the Cortes ambulance crew can manage or if the ambulance crew is already committed to another incident and unable to respond. We could speed up the patient packaging process from simply carrying patients to the ambulance to providing patient care in more complicated rescue situations where ambulance personnel cannot provide this care. The Department could potentially contribute a significant number of trained medical personnel to major incidents.

- More medical equipment on Island. The CIFFA would maintain a store of additional medical equipment to be used during major incidents with multiple patients.

- Faster patient assessments. We would be able to call for resources such as Air Ambulance, or the Coastguard for medical extractions.

CIFFA has already raised the funds to purchase all the necessary medical equipment to become CFR’s and at no cost to the tax payers of Cortes Island.
The estimated budget for this service upgrade was $41,000 for 2019 and $25,000 each year after that. The higher cost for 2019 was due to the training costs for the volunteers to become CFRs. We aim to certify some of our personnel to become trainers so that subsequent training costs will be greatly reduced.

It was the hope of the CIFFA that islanders would be able to vote on the CFR proposal in a binding referendum this October and the CFR program would be operational in the Summer of 2019 however, for their own reasons, the SRD has decided to have a non-binding referendum to decide if they will have a binding referendum. Following this pathway will result in the earliest launch of a CFR service on Cortes being Summer 2020.

To learn more about this process please attend the public meeting next Monday.

Yours truly,

Chris Walker
President, Cortes Island Fire Fighting Association

The never-endum referendum
Comment by Stephen Moyse on 7th September 2018
"... a non-binding referendum to decide if they will have a binding referendum."

How Canadian! Will we have to hold a referendum to confirm that we've held a referendum? And what about a referendum to confirm the result of the first referendum? And so on, ad infinitum...