EMS increase sought
Chief wants to hire eight paramedics, buy ambulance
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 three-year 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 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 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.
Brockville Mayor Jason Baker cautioned the committee that 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.
Instead of six-minute service in Brockville and 19 minutes in Athens, the system could be adjusted to shorten the Athens’ response times by adding a bit to the city times, Scott said.
Baker also said that the counties’ statistics shouldn’t be based solely on the Leeds and Grenville ambulance times because other counties often service calls in the northern parts Leeds and Grenville.
lloyd acknowledged that provincial rules require the closest available ambulance respond to a call, no matter where the ambulance is from.
in merrickville, for example, the closest ambulances are stationed in lanark county so they usually respond to merrickville calls, lloyd said. The same holds true for rideau lakes and Westport, he added.
The ambulances in leeds and Grenville are constantly shuttled among the five stations to ensure the regions are covered, lloyd said.
For example, if the Johnstown ambulance is out on a call, an ambulance would be moved from Brockville, say, to ensure that the Johnstown station, which covers Prescott, spencerville and cardinal, is staffed.
lloyd said his ambulances clocked more than 1.1 million kilometres in 2018.
The committee will consider lloyd’s request during its budget deliberations later this month. [email protected]media.com
Brockville Mayor Jason Baker warns that rural residents should not expect city ambulance response times.