By J.W. Schnarr
The Vauxhall Regional Fire Department is becoming well-stocked with emergency responders, according to a recent report by the regional fire chief.
During their regular meeting on April 14, Municipal District of Taber council accepted a March report from Vauxhall Regional Fire Department chief Brian Schafer informing council that current Emergency Medical Responder numbers are at 17, including six Emergency Medical Technicians and 11 EMRs. While Schafer reported he expected to lose a few of those responders to Alberta Health Services as regular AHS staff in the coming months, he was working to arrange the scheduling so the area could make use of maximum coverage.
“The current EMS service in Vauxhall is well staffed and well trained, based on the current numbers,” said Municipal Administrator Derrick Krizsan.
“Much of the credit goes to the volunteers in the Vauxhall area undertaking the training and being available for service. It’s a very important service for residents in the north half of the M.D.”
One reason for the increase in numbers has been the building of the new EMS bedrooms and living area at the Vauxhall fire hall, which Schafer said is being used on a regular basis, and which have been given a glowing review by those who make use of them.
“With the improvement to the living quarters (in Vauxhall), it’s certainly very accommodating for the volunteers there,” Krizsan said. “We’re doing what we can to allow the ambulance service to be able to continue the tradition of service (in the area).”
The VRFD is the largest fire department within the M.D. and has been operating with chief Brian Schafer at the helm. Schafer also acts as an EMS coordinator for emergency services in the area. Krizsan said having Schafer take part in both functions has increased capacity.
The large number of staff marks a change from the woes the VRFD suffered two years ago during a period when there were issues between the fire department and some members of town administration.
“Two years ago we had petitions rolling in from residents in the north of the M.D. and Vauxhall over concerns about ambulance service,” said Krizsan. “Certainly there were some things going on at the time.”
He added some of the credit has to go to Alberta Health Services, as they realize the value of the service in the area and have worked to improve it while providing some necessary resources.