New Paramedic Station Expected to Improve Response Times

The new Paramedic station at 1003 Clonsilla Ave. opened for business on Monday, April 24th, with two 24 hour ambulances on site to improve the response time for service in the west end of Peterborough City and County. Formerly the home of Paul Tinney Auto Sales, the building has undergone quite a transformation, and now incorporates two vehicle bays, office and training space to house 16 crew and the 2 ambulances. The organization also operates bases at Armour Road, in Lakefield, Norwood and Apsley, with a seasonal base in Buckhorn as well as a mobile unit launched last summer to address calls from the west end of the County, including Cavan Monaghan. They have seven 24 hour ambulances and three units that operate 12 hours a day.

Based on the organization’s operational review, we need this station. While the call volume on the Peterborough organization was up by 10.6% in 2016, calls for service from Cavan Monaghan rose by 26% during that period, and 16% of the 650 calls represented life-threatening events or urgent calls for service. While calls from Cavan Monaghan represent only 4.6% of their total volume, the unit now receives an urgent call for assistance every 24 minutes, stemming from respiratory distress, cardiac issues, musculoskeletal trauma, and seizures.

As Chief Randy Mellow explained at a presentation to Cavan Monaghan Council last month, another issue the organization faces is that the complexity of the calls is rising almost faster than their rate. Part of the explanation for this trend can be found in local demographics. With an aging population, the organization is receiving more acute calls more frequently. The increased pressure on the organization prompted them to conduct a 10 year Facility and Resource plan to ensure they were equipped to handle the increasing demands on their organization. Projections in the plan reflect a 58% increase in demand for paramedic service by 2026, representing another 504 hours of coverage per week.

The Peterborough County/City Paramedics provide care, treatment and transportation of residents and visitors to Peterborough Regional Hospital. As first responders, they provide emergency patient care including stabilization, treatment and transportation to and from health care facilities and from residences or emergency locations. They operate under the Ontario Ambulance Act and do not have a regulatory college, a source of dissent amongst paramedic professionals. Ontario paramedics perform specified medical services in certain emergency situations under the authority of one of two provincial regulatory bodies – the emergency health services branch of the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and eight hospital-based programs, which are funded and accountable to the ministry, but theirs is not a recognized profession as it lacks a self-governing regulatory body, which would protect the title of paramedic by defining their scope of practise, their educational requirements and ongoing quality compliance and prevent unregulated or unqualified individuals from using the title.

Despite the increasing demands on our local service provider, their 2016 operational review reflects improved response times as the organization shaved over three minutes from their 2015 time, bringing the average response times to 11minutes 47 seconds. This improvement has been achieved through the investment in two more ambulance units and 14 part- time staff hires. In fact, they beat all of their response time targets, and with the support of PRHC, they have achieved shorter off-load delays at the hospital.

The organization is building on its partnership to reduce the demand from users Councillor Huntley refers to as “frequent flyers”. When conditions warrant and with patient consent, Paramedic staff will refer patients to organizations including Community Care and local health units to help patients address ongoing health issues before their problems require urgent calls for assistance.

Next on the emergency services agenda for our area: a new Fire Hall. KG

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