Whether or not police respond to the scene of a minor vehicle collision in Nanaimo depends on the availability of resources, severity of the crash and which responder gets there first.
In recent years, the sight of a police cruiser at the scene of a minor vehicle collision has become less frequent in the Harbour City.
Response priorities tend to be tailored to the needs of a region or municipality at the local level, through the co-operation of police, fire, local government and the B.C. Ambulance Service.
A call to 911 to report a fenderbender, minor or not, will automatically activate a response by BCAS as a first-responder.
The second activation will likely be Nanaimo Fire Rescue, which has greater first responder training than police, as well as collision tools like the jaws of life.
If the damage is minor and the parties are able to exchange their information, a police presence is not always necessary, says the officer in charge of the Nanaimo RCMP.
"We may end up attending a routine accident if there's a dispute over it," he said.
"It almost becomes an incident command. The first person gets to the site, they kind of call the shots."
In a situation that is non-criminal and appears to involve no traffic violations, a dispatcher with access to ambulance, fire and police resources may choose to hold back a squad car.
Just because a police officer is not present at the scene of a minor vehicle crash from the get go does not mean they will not show up at a later time to check on the proceedings, said detachment spokeswoman Sgt. Sheryl Armstrong.
For minor fender benders, the responsibility tends to fall on NFR.
"We don't go if it's a fender bender. We don't go unless they (fire) call us," said Armstrong. "That's the protocol. If we (hear) there's a five car pileup on the bypass, we automatically go. If we get a call that someone ran a stop sign. .. we don't.
"We go anytime there's injuries or alcohol involvement," she said.
Another factor are the number of resources at the disposal of police. On days during flu season when the detachment has fewer squad cars available than usual, those resources will tend to be used more sparingly.
The arrangement is one that NFR has been vocal as supporting.
In a recent interview with the Daily News, assistant chief of operations Wade Smith said the department was happy to move up in the "pecking order" as a first responder to minor collisions.
"We used to end up last," he said. "They would be on scene before us. Meanwhile there's fuel leaking, cars aren't stabilized, batteries aren't connected.
"The change was made that fire would respond first, unless there's reports of serious injury over the phone on the initial call - then everybody goes," he said.
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