More EMS for L&G

Standard-Freeholder (Cornwall) - - FRONT PAGE - WAYNE LOWRIE

BROCKVILLE — The chief of Leeds and Grenville’s para­medic ser­vices has asked for an ad­di­tional $1.6 mil­lion this year to hire more paramedics and buy a new am­bu­lance.

Chris Lloyd said the money would be used to hire eight paramedics, one su­per­vi­sor and add a ve­hi­cle to the coun­ties’ fleet.

The pur­chase of a new am­bu­lance for $230,000 would al­low the coun­ties to ex­tend the life of an older am­bu­lance, ef­fec­tively in­creas­ing the coun­ties’ fleet by two ve­hi­cles, Lloyd told the coun­ties’ joint ser­vices com­mit­tee on Wed­nes­day.

The new am­bu­lances would be based in Gananoque and in Kemptville to give those re­gions 24-hour cov­er­age, he said.

Those com­mu­ni­ties now have am­bu­lances based there for 12 hours a day. Other am­bu­lances are shut­tled in to cover dur­ing off hours. Lloyd said the 2019 spend­ing is the fi­nal phase of a three­year plan to im­prove para­medic ser­vices in sprawl­ing Leeds and Grenville.

The chief said his ser­vice is un­der pres­sure from a steady in­crease in call vol­umes, cou­pled with a higher per­cent­age of more se­ri­ous calls. The vol­ume of calls has ramped up by more than four per cent a year since 2010.

Much of the call vol­ume has been fu­elled by the fact that Leeds and Grenville is ag­ing much faster than the rest of On­tario and se­niors ac­count for the largest per­cent­age of calls, he said.

Added to the Lloyd’s chal­lenges is coun­ties coun­cil’s push to lower re­sponse times in ru­ral Leeds and Grenville. Am­bu­lance re­sponse times vary widely de­pend­ing on how close you live to one of the five am­bu­lance sta­tions, weather and road con­di­tions.

In Brockville, which has the high­est call vol­ume in Leeds and Grenville, res­i­dents can ex­pect an am­bu­lance within six or eight min­utes, while in Athens or West­port, peo­ple can wait for an av­er­age of 19 min­utes. The prov­ince has been push­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to set lower re­sponse-time stan­dards.

Brockville Mayor Ja­son Baker cau­tioned the com­mit­tee ru­ral ar­eas can’t ex­pect to re­ceive the same ser­vice as the six min­utes in Brockville. There are joys to liv­ing in the beau­ti­ful sur­round­ings of Charleston Lake, for ex­am­ple, but one of the trade­offs is lower para­medic re­sponse times, Baker said.

Athens Mayor Herb Scott said his res­i­dents don’t ex­pect city re­sponse times. But the gap be­tween city and coun­try re­sponses should be nar­rowed, he suggested.

The com­mit­tee will con­sider Lloyd’s re­quest dur­ing its bud­get de­lib­er­a­tions later this month. [email protected]­

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