Paramedics spend­ing more time at home

The Daily Observer - - FRONT PAGE - SEAN CHASE

With Ot­tawa paramedics be­ing di­rected to change its dis­patch prac­tices, County of Ren­frew paramedics are be­gin­ning to see less reliance on them to re­spond to emer­gency calls in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal.

Ear­lier this year, Eric Hoskins, min­is­ter of health and long-term care, or­dered that paramedics were to no longer have a manda­tory 30-minute pe­riod where they are not avail­able for an­other call when they are drop­ping off a pa­tient at the hospi­tal. As well, Ot­tawa paramedics will no longer be taken out of ser­vice in the last 30 min­utes of their shift.

Ren­frew County paramedics had been forced to re­spond to more calls in the Ot­tawa-area, as the city’s am­bu­lance de­ploy­ment plan fo­cused on its ur­ban core as op­posed to the ru­ral, out­ly­ing ar­eas within its pe­riph­ery. That re­sulted in the county tak­ing 55 per cent more calls in 2016 alone.

County coun­cil last month re­ceived a re­port from Michael Nolan, chief of the Ren­frew County Paramedic Ser­vice and di­rec­tor of emer­gency ser­vices, who at­tended a meet­ing in March of the Ot­tawa Cen­tral Am­bu­lance Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Cen­tre (CACC)/ Ot­tawa Paramedic Ser­vice. Among the changes Ot­tawa is im­ple­ment­ing is that all Ot­tawa units will be avail­able for emer­gency re­sponse calls, or Code 4’s, un­til the end of their shift. This is in­tended to re­duce call re­sponses re­quired by sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

In ad­di­tion, Ren­frew County paramedics will not re­spond to ur­gent Code 3 calls out­side of the county if there are less than seven ve­hi­cles avail­able in­side the county to serve the com­mu­nity. The Ot­tawa CACC will con­tract the Ren­frew CACC for ap­proval of as­sign­ments of low pri­or­ity trans­fers back to the county.

“The min­is­ter’s in­volve­ment cer­tainly ex­pe­dited Ot­tawa mak­ing some changes in terms of mak­ing its own re­sources more avail­able to its own com­mu­nity,” said Nolan. “It pro­vided a level play­ing field for all paramedic ser­vices to en­sure that no mat­ter who you are in On­tario that you get the clos­est avail­able paramedic ser­vice in the most life-threat­en­ing sit­u­a­tions.”

Based upon the judg­ment of the shift com­man­der and cur­rent de­ploy­ment re­quire­ments within the county, Ren­frew County paramedic crews in Ot­tawa can be des­ig­nated as con­di­tion­ally avail­able for first re­sponse.

Nolan noted this was a pos­i­tive change for the ser­vice, al­low­ing crews to re­turn to the county as quickly as pos­si­ble. Con­di­tional avail­abil­ity will be com­mu­ni­cated to the ot­tawa CaCC by the shift com­man­der al­low­ing crews to re­turn to the county and in­form­ing ot­tawa that it will need to send a trans­port­ing crew for the pa­tient. The ex­cep­tions would be if the county has the clos­est re­sponse to a time sen­si­tive ill­ness or in­jury to the pa­tient.

“These changes will be closely mon­i­tored to en­sure the best pos­si­ble out­come for our com­mu­ni­ties,” said Hor­ton Town­ship Mayor robert kings­bury, deputy-chair­man of the health com­mit­tee. “The im­pact of these changes will be re­ported reg­u­larly to our com­mit­tee and coun­cil.”

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