Kamloops' ambulance dispatch centre - covering all of BC north of Lytton - closed for at least one week by sewage accident and chemical spill, leaving public without adequate dispatch system, say Ambulance Paramedics of BC; three employees sent to hospital

    RICHMOND, BC, April 24 /CNW/ - The Kamloops' ambulance dispatch centre -
covering all of BC north of Lytton - will be closed for at least one week by a
sewage accident and chemical spill, leaving tens of thousands of British
Columbians without an adequate telephone dispatch system, say the Ambulance
Paramedics of BC.
    On Saturday April 21 a sump pump failure resulted in a major sewage spill
in the ambulance dispatch centre, says John Strohmaier, president of the
Ambulance Paramedics, forcing employees to evacuate the building.
    "Now the entire region north of Lytton is relying for ambulance dispatch
services on a few cell phones and no way to tell what is an urgent emergency
call while staff are working out of a temporary facility for at least a week,"
Strohmaier said. "There is no backup dispatch centre for ambulance calls and
we are worried that the public could be at risk as a result."
    Strohmaier said the Ambulance Paramedics of BC have complained about both
the deteriorating state of the Kamloops Dispatch Centre and the lack of a
backup centre for years and now the problem cannot be easily solved.
    "It's not acceptable that tens of thousands of people in northern British
Columbia are going to be left without adequate ambulance dispatch
capabilities," Strohmaier said. "The BC Ambulance Service has ignored our
members' complaints and now we have a serious crisis as a result."
    Strohmaier also says three employees who were staffing the centre before
it was evacuated were sent to Royal Inland Hospital for treatment when
chemicals used in the attempt to clean up the spill caused adverse reactions.

    Ambulance Paramedics of BC are members of the Canadian Union of Public
Employees Local 873.

For further information:

For further information: John Strohmaier, cell (604) 790-0873; B.J.
Chute, cell (604) 218-6169, or (604) 273-5722; Bill Tieleman, West Star
Communications, (604) 844-7827, cell (778) 896-0964; Website: www.apbc.ca

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