The pri­vate am­bu­lance route?

The Glengarry News - - Front Page - BY MAR­GARET CALDBICK News Staff

With paramedics con­tin­u­ing to strike, some al­ter­na­tive, and costly, mea­sures are be­ing pro­posed to deal with the re­duc­tion in am­bu­lance ser­vice. The is­sue was dis­cussed at the last South Glen­garry coun­cil meet­ing. Councillor Bill Macken­zie sug­gested that the municipality con­sider hir­ing a pri­vate am­bu­lance com­pany to cover in a se­ri­ous emer­gency. “But it’s ex­pen­sive, very ex­pen­sive I can tell you be­cause I used it once,” said Mr. Macken­zie. “As I re­call it was be­tween $400 and $800 to go from Corn­wall to Ot­tawa.”

Deputy Mayor Frank Prevost sug­gested an­other pos­si­bil­ity if the strike wears on -- an agree­ment with Prescott-Rus­sell emer­gency ser­vices for the use of one of its ve­hi­cles.

Councillor Lyle War­den sug­gested draft­ing a letter to the Prov­ince ask­ing that emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices be made es­sen­tial. He said that it’s not the man­date of the municipality or any other lower- tier level of gov­ern­ment to deal with this kind of ser­vice. “I think our job is to lobby to have it con­sid­ered as an es­sen­tial ser­vice.”

Coun­cil re­ceived an up­date from Fire Chief Dave Robert­son on med­i­cal emer­gency pre­pared­ness dur­ing the on­go­ing Cana­dian Union of Pub­lic Employees (CUPE) strike.

Three out of the reg­u­lar nine am­bu­lances in Stor­mont-Dun­dasGlen­garry re­main in ser­vice since the walk­out, and only two at night.

Paramedics’ right to strike is lim­ited by an es­sen­tial ser­vices agree­ment be­tween CUPE and the City of Corn­wall that en­sures that res­i­dents have ac­cess to es­sen­tial ser­vices in the event of a strike.

A prob­lem that could af­fect med­i­cal emer­gency re­sponse times in SD&G is the baf­fling para­medic de­ploy­ment model that can tie up the lim­ited am­bu­lances in the re­gion.

“What of­ten hap­pens is, take a case like a stroke pa­tient, the am­bu­lance by­passes lo­cal hos­pi­tals and goes straight to Ot­tawa,” Chief Robert­son ex­plained to coun­cil.

“So now they are out of our ter­ri­tory, and as soon as they off­load the pa­tient and are back in ser­vice, they're the clos­est am­bu­lance to that hospi­tal and re­quired to an­swer City of Ot­tawa calls. And this is what’s hap­pened over the last cou­ple of years, es­pe­cially with the coun­ties of Prescott and Rus­sell.”

Re­duc­tion

Dur­ing the strike, only those pa­tients with ur­gent and emer­gency health is­sues should call for an am­bu­lance. Call 911 for am­bu­lance as­sis­tance if it is needed for se­vere emer­gen­cies such as short­ness of breath, chest pain, ma­jor trau­matic in­jury or un­con­scious­ness. Al­ter­na­tives to call­ing 911 in­clude tak­ing a per­sonal ve­hi­cle or taxi to the hospi­tal, call­ing Tele­health On­tario toll-free at 1-866-797-0000, vis­it­ing a phar­macy, clinic, or doc­tor. Dur­ing strike ac­tion, no rou­tine trans­fers will take place. In the event of a ma­jor emer­gency, strik­ing paramedics will be called onto the job.

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