Staff Sargeant Steve Wright

Staff Sargeant Steve Wright

Protective services outlines their issues

Police, fire and ambulance all need new recruits to fill vacancies

The District of Sooke held the first protective services meeting on March 7 at the municipal city hall to introduce different emergency departments to residents.

Heads from the Sooke RCMP, fire department and ambulatory services conducted presentations discussing year-end results, department backgrounds and existing shortfalls.

Sooke RCMP

“Sooke compared to other municipalities is grossly under policed,” said Steve Wright, RCMP staff sergeant. “We don’t have enough police officers to go to 24 hour coverage and that is a concern to me.”

The District of Sooke currently has 15 police officers, 11 are paid by the district and four by the province.

After 3 a.m. there are no police officers in the detachment, only officers on call.

“What it does is our police officers are on call so there’s a delay in our response. A serious delay in our response time and that could pose a danger to the community,” Wright said.

There is currently one police officer for every 1,000 residents in the district, which contrasts with the 1/670 average for the rest of the province. In order to match the province, Sooke requires five more police officers.

Each tax payer, pays $140/year for policing services. In Victoria it’s $400 per capita.

“We’re being stretched too thin with all the demands. We’re getting to the point now where the days of ‘No call is too small’ is coming to an end.”

According to Wright, police are focusing on crime reduction. Prolific offenders are monitored to ensure they follow probation rules, and curfews.

“Prolific offenders commit 90 per cent of the crimes, so if we target them we’ll reduce our crime rate.”

Last year, police responded to 5,000 calls, nearly a 600 decrease from the six year average.

Fire Department

Fire Chief Steve Sorensen said the department is in need of more volunteer fire fighters.

“Biggest problem we’re facing right now is recruitment and retention of volunteer fire fighters,” he said, adding a volunteer fire fighter lasts 2.8 years, but it takes roughly two years to train them. Training costs roughly $8,000, including gear.

“Each year it gets a little bit harder to attract volunteers.”

In order to cut costs, the fire department was thinking of culling the first responder program, but it was later determined it would be more cost-efficient to continue it.

“If your majority of your department is first responder trained, you don’t have to have first aid attendants.”

Currently the fire completes less than half of inspections for commercial and public buildings, completing 350 out of 750 this year, not including re-inspections.

According to fire underwriters, the 25-year-old tank on the tanker truck is going to need to replaced soon.

Calls have increased 10 per cent each year for the past 15 years, with 900 calls this year.

The fire department currently operates on five paid positions and 33 volunteer fire fighters.

Ambulatory services

Bryon Longeway, BC Ambulance unit chief, said the local ambulances answer 2,500 calls a year, which fluctuate between 150-200 calls a month. The service area stretches from Metchosin to Jordan River.

He said the District of Sooke currently receives assistance from Victoria advanced life support paramedics, who are on scene in situations that require a higher level of care.

According to Longeway, a cardiac case would take the paramedics to Royal Jublilee Hospital in Victoria, meaning an absence between 3-4 hours.

He said that cardiac cases will usually go to RJH because paramedics can provide emergency care in the back of an ambulance, meaning a direct route to Cath care.

Longeway said response times are monitored by a higher body, and paramedics are given 90 seconds to get to a scene. Since September, there have been no inquiries from the District of Sooke or fire services regarding response delays.

There are currently 30-32 staff. Eight staff moved onto other postings on March 1, but 10 more were acquired.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sandy Carmichael is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Seniors’ Champion. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Worker bee returns to volunteer: Sandy Carmichael a fixture at Langford Royal Canadian Legion

Sandy Carmichael is the 2021 recipient of the Seniors’ Champion Award

West Shore Parks and Recreation facilities face a challenging future in terms of funding, due to reduced operations throughout the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore Parks and Recreation faces challenging future

West Shore Parks and Recreation Society submits 2021 budget request to owner municipalities

The It’s Critical campaign has raised $5.89 million towards its $7 million goal to expand critical care capacity at Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital. (Black Press Media file photo)
Critical care improvements make the list with Greater Victoria shoppers

Save-On-Foods pledges $300,000 to Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s It’s Critical campaign

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon to listen to speakers decry COVID-19 restrictions. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Victoria residents protest masks, COVID-19 restrictions

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon

Saskatoon resident liajah Pidskalny poses with his bike near the University of Victoria after putting on thousands of kilometres to raise awareness of the overdose and mental health crisis. (Courtesy Iliajah Pidskalny)
Saskatoon cyclist winds up mental health and overdose awareness ride in Victoria

Iliajah Pidskalny braves prairie winter conditions to get word out to communities

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Most Read