Editor: In an effort to set the record straight, I’d like your readers to understand the fire department’s position in the recent medical incident at the Richmond Hill High School.
Let me say first the mission of the Richmond Hill Fire Department is to protect life and property. That’s what we were attempting to do when the department’s First Responders heard the call over the radio from 911 dispatch center and went to the high school.
The fire department’s protocol is to respond to all situations within the city that threaten life or property, whether a direct call comes in from 911 or not. That’s what occurred in this instance. With only two ambulances and emergency medical technician crews in the county, it is always possible that the crews may be tied up elsewhere and the First Responders may be the first medically-trained crew to arrive on site.
When the call was heard about a possible overdose at the high school, we responded as we do to all such cases, not knowing what awaited us at the scene until we arrived. At the time, the seriousness of the incident was unknown, as was who was already on scene to treat the individual. Also, the call never went out over our radio channel that the First Responders were not needed.
The First Responders arrived at the high school first, with the EMT’s close behind. The First Responders were held outside the school until EMS personnel arrived. Firefighters then entered the building with EMS but were not allowed in the area with the patient. After several minutes Firefighter Hebert opened the door and asked if EMS needed their help for anything. EMS advised they had everything under control. At that time firefighters went back in-service and returned to the station.
When the potential is there for loss of life, you can never be too careful. We responded as we always do. Fortunately, in this case, all things worked out well. However, we need to be ever vigilant when it comes to the lives of our citizens. An extra set of eyes or hands at the scene hurts no one and could save a life.
Richmond Hill Fire Chief