A Safer Yukon, A Better Yukon

Darrell Pasloski, Premier, MLA for MountainviewAs submitted to local media on Friday, August 19, 2016
by Premier Darrell Pasloski

Recently, our government fulfilled our commitment to provide basic 9-1-1 service across the territory. 9-1-1 service is now available anywhere a telephone call can be made. This service enhancement means that by dialing one, easy-to-remember number, dedicated volunteer and professional staff can spring into action to respond to fire and medical emergencies anywhere in the territory. We want Yukoners to feel safe and secure in their homes and communities, and this is part of our ongoing efforts toward that goal.

Our government is proud to support first responders through investments in the Fire Marshal’s Office and Yukon Emergency Medical Services (EMS). By investing in people, equipment, training and infrastructure, we work to further strengthen the territory’s ability to respond to emergencies and coordinate prevention activities.

Mobile Fire TrainingThe Fire Marshal’s Office operates 16 volunteer fire departments, inclusive of 225 volunteer firefighters, and provides advice and support to eight municipal fire departments. Yukon EMS maintains 17 ambulance stations—15 of which are in rural communities—and supports training and response activities for more than 165 volunteers.

A few years ago, the Fire Marshal’s Office received $1.9 million in new investments that improved the capacity of the Yukon fire service. The investment doubled capacity to conduct life safety inspections, fire investigations, fire prevention, firefighter training, and purchased a mobile live-fire training unit that has improved firefighter training and safety across the territory. More than 70 municipal and territorial firefighters have trained in thousands of live-fire training sessions.

Support for structural fire protection in each of Yukon’s eight municipalities is provided through the Comprehensive Municipal Grant program. By 2017 each municipality will have received $250,000 to invest in fire prevention and protection.Trial by Fire

Our government’s commitment to strengthening the territory’s emergency response infrastructure has been demonstrated through our investment in facilities and emergency vehicles. More than $15.6 million has been invested in replacing or upgrading fire halls since 2009. Most recently, new fire halls in Beaver Creek and Carcross have been designed to house the local volunteer fire department, Yukon EMS, and search and rescue. The Fire Marshal’s Office also maintains a fire apparatus fleet of more than 48 trucks. New investments have allowed the replacement of aging vehicles. Since 2011, we invested more than $4.8 million outfitting 12 new fire vehicles and 8 new ambulances to add to the territory’s fleet.

As our population grows and call volumes increase, the Yukon government has helped to meet the demand for emergency pre-hospital care with infrastructure upgrades in all communities where Yukon EMS has a presence. The Yukon government invested $177,000 in funding in 2014/15 to improve Yukon EMS infrastructure across the territory and increase volunteer recruitment and retention. There has been a subsequent investment of $500,000 for the 2015/16 fiscal year and another $323,000 investment is planned for 2016/17 to support this important work.

Additionally, full-time and auxiliary staff have been added in Whitehorse, Dawson City and Watson Lake. Investments in the Yukon Emergency Response Coordination Centre, housed in the recently-opened Riverdale EMS station, offer professional communication officers safer, faster and more efficient tools to dispatch ambulances in Whitehorse and coordinate medevac patient transfers throughout the territory. In addition to improving access to in-station training for community responders, Yukon EMS implemented an online learning management system to enable community responders to develop and maintain clinical competency without having to leave their home communities. This in-community training is linked to higher levels of volunteer recruitment and engagement, and more training modules are being developed to support these critical community volunteers.

The Government of Yukon is proud of its first responders, but emergency response is a shared responsibility in Yukon. Multiple agencies work together to provide response services throughout the territory, communities champion their local teams, and the government provides training, equipment and infrastructure to those who respond to fire and medical emergencies. This spirit of cooperation and the support that volunteers offer in their communities reflect our true northern values.