December 12, 2019

Emergency response a concern

PITTSFIELD — At Tuesday’s Pittsfield Town Council meeting, Councilor Mark Bergeron said that several Pittsfield firefighters had brought a serious concern to him in the aftermath of a recent fire and serious burn injury at the Sibley Pond Motel on Route 2.

“I feel we have some weaknesses in our emergency response,” he said.

Bergeron said that firefighters told him they did not have first-aid kits or sufficient medical training to be able to assist the fire victim, who was critically burned. They asked Bergeron to suggest to the council that rescue or first-responder options be researched.

“Firefighting is very dangerous,” said Bergeron. “If no one on the scene is trained in first aid, that even makes it more dangerous.”

Although other council members admitted that immediate medical response at a fire would be preferred, they questioned the liability that the town would incur by having firefighters provide medical treatment to victims. The cost involved with training personnel and outfitting a rescue unit also was discussed.

“Some firefighters have expressed to me their willingness to take EMT (emergency medical technician) training,” he said.

Mayor Robert Downs said such a research project should be done by the fire department, not by the council. “If the fire department has a concern or needs,” he said, “let them research it and bring it to us.”

Bergeron, however, asked if there was a managerial problem in the fire department. “We don’t get monthly reports and it seems there is some negativism on the part of these firefighters to push this issue through fire department channels. Couldn’t we as a council look at the costs?” asked Bergeron.

Several options were discussed, including refitting the department’s utility van as a rescue unit, providing first-responder training or providing EMT training for firefighters.

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