Paramedics study Olympic emergency response

The head of a group representing Canadian paramedics is off to London to learn how emergency responders at the Summer Games share radio frequencies without getting their signals crossed.

Paramedics and police do not share the same emergency radio frequencies in Ottawa and many other jurisdictions in Canada.

Yet police, fire services and paramedics are often dispatched to the same emergency.

It's a problem Mike Nolan, the president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Paramedics and a Renfrew, Ont., resident, recognizes and is helping to address.

The federal government announced in May it was allocating 10 MHz of the 700 MHz channel to create a shared channel for all Canadian first responders.

According to Public Safety Canada, the channel will allow firefighters, police, and paramedics to link to colleagues in other agencies across Canada and, when necessary, their counterparts along the Canada-U.S. border.

Nolan said he learned about emergency radio interoperability at the Vancouver Olympics, and is hoping to learn more in London.

"Really, it's a matter of the scope and the scale of what's going on in London, but they've also added in a layer of military," said Nolan.

Pierre Poirier, Ottawa's Chief of Security and Emergency Management said the current situation needed to be fixed.

"We want to be able to talk each other," he said. "It'd be ideal if, at the scene, a paramedic and a firefighter could talk to each other."

Nolan will return later in August to advise federal officials how the emergency radios at the London Olympics can improve communications here in Canada.