Strikers disrupt security exercise - Metro US

Strikers disrupt security exercise

Picketing paramedics disrupted a planned Olympic security exercise Thursday morning at Vancouver’s rail yard.

The event was part of the final of three exercises aimed at preparing first responders for possible emergency scenarios during February’s Olympic Games.

B.C. Ambulance Paramedics, who have been on strike since April and who could soon be forced back to work, picketed outside the Via rail yard and St. Paul’s Hospital during the mock rail disaster.

Firefighters balked at crossing the paramedic’s picket line, delaying the exercise that was eventually relocated to the nearby Vancouver Fire Department training centre. A media viewing was also scrapped.

Jamie Tomlinson, a spokesman for Public Safety Canada, said the training took place as planned, but in a different location for “operational reasons.”

Firefighters hung tarps from the chain-link fences to prevent viewers from watching.

The picketers left at 11 a.m. after receiving word that Via had a court injunction to void their picket line and that they had the assurance from the firefighters union that they would not cross their picket line.

Rod MacDonald, president of the Vancouver Fire Fighters, said firefighters did not cross the line, but participated fully in the training exercise after it was removed.

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