New Brunswick fire departments handle increased calls, higher medical alerts

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick fire departments seeing spike in calls'
New Brunswick fire departments seeing spike in calls
WATCH: Some fire departments in New Brunswick are reporting a dramatic increase in the number of calls they respond to. As Zack Power explains, not all of them are fire calls – Jan 17, 2023

New Brunswick populations on the rise have had a trickle-down effect on some Maritime fire departments.

In Moncton, call volumes skyrocketed past pre-pandemic numbers, with 7,030 calls placed into the Moncton Fire Department in 2022, an increase of nearly a thousand calls from 2019.

The Moncton region was the fastest-growing metropolitan area in Canada last year, adding nearly 9,000 people between July 2021 and 2022.

“If you had asked me on Jan. 1st, I would not have guessed this for sure,” said Conrad Landry, City of Moncton fire chief.

“As the months went by, we started seeing a significant rise in our medical calls.”

Read more: Largest N.B. cities growing much faster than the national average

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Medical calls have notably risen throughout New Brunswick as paramedic and ambulance shortages continue to riddle the healthcare system.

Landry said that one of the most significant sticking points is the number of medical calls related to overdoses throughout the region,

“If I start looking at medical calls, there seem to be a lot of overdose calls,” noted Landry in an interview with Global News.

“The amount of Narcan we bought this year was unreal. I know we got to a lot of overdoses because I see those bills, and I’ve seen the invoices.”

Read more: New Brunswick Liberals call for renegotiation of ambulance contract

Ambulance New Brunswick staff could not provide a clear number on how many calls were put into the ambulance service through the calendar year but noted that numbers in the 2021-22 fiscal year were up nearly 10 per cent from the previous year, with 125,160 calls placed between April 1st, 2021 and March 31st, 2022

As for overdose calls:

“That determination can only be done by hospital staff upon arrival at emergency department,” said spokesperson Eric Robichaud.

“Paramedics are able to treat symptoms on scene and en route to the hospital, but only a blood and toxicology exam can determine if an overdose has truly taken place.”

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The numbers come as New Brunswick cities deal with the growing pains of population growth. In Riverview, N.B., fire crews have been fighting the most significant call volume since they stopped ambulance service in 2007, with over 1,400 calls in 2022.

“Anytime you have a population increase, you can expect in call volumes from year to year,” said John Malloy, Town of Riverview Deputy Chief of Fire Prevention.

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick opposition calls for renegotiation of ambulance contract'
New Brunswick opposition calls for renegotiation of ambulance contract

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