Migrant influx leaves first responders overwhelmed at Lacolle border
Published Monday, August 14, 2017 9:39PM EDT
First responders near the Lacolle border said they are completely overwhelmed on Monday, as the number of calls has multiplied tenfold following the recent influx of asylum seekers.
“Normally we have 30 calls a year, now we have 30 calls a month,” said fire chief Normand Faille, one of 33 first responders in St-Bernard-De-Lacolle, a town of just under 1,500.
Faille said with 250 asylum seekers crossing the border every day, medical calls have been coming in at all hours.
“It’s hard physically and mentally,” he said. “You go tonight, you get up, you were at work yesterday, you need to go tonight and you have another call. Sometimes you need to sleep, too.”
Last week, the Canadian Armed Forces erected a tent city to house migrants as they await processing. The Red Cross was called in to help, but officials said there has been no contact between them and first responders.
Town director Daniel Striletsky said every call costs $15 per responder and thus far, neither the federal or provincial government has stepped in to provide funds.
“Sometimes you’ll get a tacit ‘Don’t worry, we’ll take care of it,’” he said. “But when you put in the claims, who knows?”
Officials said if things continue at this pace, they will have to ask other municipalities to take on some 911 calls as backup.