Medical calls keep Oak Bay fire crews busy over holidays

Miscellaneous calls for service also included household

Emergency medical and non-fire public assistance calls kept the Oak Bay Fire Department busy in the final week of the year.

Firefighters responded to 11 medical calls, ranging from heart problems to broken bones. They also answered 17 public assistance requests that varied from helping elderly people who had fallen in their homes to those suffering from shortness of breath, said Fire Chief Gerry Adam.

The fire department is often dispatched by the B.C. Ambulance Service because it is able to respond faster than the closest ambulance, he said.

One call for help saw firefighters shut off a water main and suck water out of a rec room in a house on Foul Bay Road, after a neighbour noticed a broken water line flooding the home, he said.  Firefighters acted because it happened after Oak Bay public works had shut down for the day.

It’s all in a day’s work, Adam said. “If you call the fire hall and need assistance, we come.”

Those are the type of calls larger professional fire departments in Victoria and Saanich can’t answer because they are too busy, he said. Rural fire departments which rely on volunteers who work at regular jobs generally don’t answer medical and non-fire public assistance calls, he added.

The small, professional Oak Bay department doesn’t ignore non-fire calls for help, Adam said, because “that’s what we do; what people pay taxes for and the services we provide.”

The number of calls over the festive season was “fairly consistent” with past years, he said.

The fire department last year responded to 1,300-plus public assistance calls – 700 for medical reasons.

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