Fire crews unable to assist at Masters

Organizers of the Sparkling Hill Masters World Cup will have to look elsewhere for medical help.

Organizers of the Sparkling Hill Masters World Cup will have to look elsewhere for medical help.

The Electoral Area Advisory Committee is recommending the North Okanagan Regional District not permit firefighters to respond to medical emergencies during the event March 3 to 11 at Sovereign Lake.

“There’s a legal opinion that if we allow the Silver Star Fire Department to go outside of its protection area, there is a liability,” said Mike Macnabb, BX-Silver Star director.

“It’s very disappointing but we don’t want to put the regional district and its taxpayers at risk. It’s not about us wanting to be involved.”

It’s anticipated the cross-country event will draw 1,200 racers from 26 countries.

Volunteer members of the Canadian Ski Patrol System will provide basic first aid, including CPR.

But organizers are planning for possible major incidents.

“In case of a medical emergency, we will as usual call 911 to activate emergency medical services,” said Robert Despault, first aid co-ordinator, in a letter to NORD.

“However, we are concerned about the potentially long wait times for B.C. Ambulance Service (in Vernon). We would like the assistance of the Silver Star Fire Department to enhance our overall first response capability during the event.”

The fire department was supportive of the request. However, NORD staff were opposed.

“Despite the commercial benefits of sporting events such as the Masters World Cup to the region and the volunteer and general community support, a pivotal issue is whether the regional district has the authority to provide the requested service,” said Ron Baker, protective services manager.

Baker points out that World Cup organizers have decided not to secure an on-site contract ambulance service because of the high cost involved.

Macnabb admits he was surprised to learn that the Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre is not included within the boundaries of the Silver Star Fire Department. He believes that situation may have to change long-term.

“We will have to look at that but we will have to look at manpower and if we have the resources for it,” he said.

The EAAC recommendation to not allow Silver Star firefighters to participate must still be considered by the NORD board.