EMS in­crease sought

Chief wants to hire eight paramedics, buy am­bu­lance

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - FRONT PAGE - WAYNE LOWRIE

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

FILE PHOTO

Brockville Mayor Ja­son Baker warns that ru­ral res­i­dents should not ex­pect city am­bu­lance re­sponse times.

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