Legislation gives first responders peace of mind

New legislation will give emergency workers the right to test patients for serious communicable diseases.

  • May. 17, 2012 8:00 a.m.

New legislation will give emergency workers the right to test patients for serious communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and C.

The Ministry of Labour introduced the legislation on April 30, meaning emergency workers will be able to access information about potential disease exposure.

The nature of the work done by emergency personnel means they are at a higher risk of coming into contact with other peoples’ bodily substances, putting them in a situation where they can be exposed to serious diseases.

The Emergency Intervention Disclosure Act will enable emergency workers to get a court order to require individuals to give a bodily fluid sample, if one is not given voluntarily.

Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett, said he spent a couple of days last summer with his colleague, Kelowna-Lake Country MLA, Norm Letnick, meeting with local paramedics and fire fighters to gauge their support and to determine the need.

“It has been a privilege to have worked with my local and provincial firefighters and paramedics over the past three years on this bill,” said Letnick. “This bill improves the balance between the right to privacy of individuals and the right to know among those who may be impacted by the transfer of bodily fluids.”

The bill also protects privacy by assuring information is shared in confidence only, and sets penalties for non-compliance of testing orders and privacy provisions. Bronwyn Barter, president, Ambulance Paramedics of BC, said, “Our paramedics and partners in police and fire are exposed to needle-stick injuries or blood splashes routinely, and not being able to find out in a timely manner whether or not you’ve been exposed to a blood-borne illness can cause a great deal of stress.

“We have the right to know.”

Jason Macnaughton, Communications Manager at the Ministry of Labour, said that currently most people agree to give a blood sample when asked, but some may refuse.

“Here’s an example of when this legislation might apply,” he said. “A paramedic attends a car crash and cuts his arm on the wreckage while assisting injured passengers. During this time, the blood of an injured passenger comes in contact with the paramedic’s open wound.

“If the individual refuses to give a blood sample for testing, the paramedic could use this legislation to obtain one.”

Similar legislation exists in six other provinces: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. Regulations will be developed to test for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Between 1987 and 2011, WorkSafeBC accepted 227 claims for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV exposures. Of those claims, 47 were from first responders.

 

Just Posted

City of Fernie poised to approve $19.3m loan for multi-purpose centre

The City must prove it can pay its portion of the $72.5 million centre if successful for a grant

Elk Valley mines boost overall Teck production

Fording River, Elkview achieve record fourth quarter; Fording, Greenhills have bumper year

B.C. Interior free from measles

Vancouver measles outbreak hasn’t spread to the B.C. Interior

Man injured in police shooting near Nelson has died

The death follows an incident in Bonnington on Feb. 13

Local DJ to take stage at Fernie Stoke Fest

Jenn Johnson - aka Jenn Frost - confirmed as closing act at Fernie Stoke Fest on April 9

Fashion Fridays: Must have wardrobe basics

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Kootenay man dies in crash near Sparwood

Accident occurred last night east of Sparwood, RCMP appealing for witnesses

POLL: Are Wildlife Detection Systems in the Elk Valley working?

In 2016, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) installed two wildlife… Continue reading

Fernie Ghostriders face defeat during away weekend

Fans encouraged to wear white for first playoffs game at Fernie Memorial Arena, February 26

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

More sailings coming to 10 BC Ferries’ routes

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the sailings were originally cut in 2014

Most Read