01/31/2013 01:57 EST | Updated 04/02/2013 05:12 EDT

Lacombe Fire Department No Longer Attending Medical Emergency Calls


Concerns about liability and other issues have prompted a central Alberta community to limit its volunteer fire department's medical first-response services.

City council in Lacombe has decided that while firefighters will continue to provide initial first aid at fires and collisions, they will not take emergency calls involving heart attacks, strokes and drug overdoses.

Alberta Health Services took over Lacombe's ambulance services last October, and fire Chief Ed van Delden says firefighters have been responding to an increasing number of serious medical situations.

Van Delden says while crews are extremely competent in first aid, they are being called out to critical medical situations when ambulance workers are delayed.

Mayor Steve Christie says it would be irresponsible to ask firefighters to carry out a service they are not fully qualified to perform.

Alberta Health Services says it does not believe patient care will be jeopardized as a result of Lacombe's decision.

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