Town wants enhancements to Essex-Windsor EMS

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council is asking Essex County council to help enhance EMS service in the town.
Councillor Joan Courtney’s motion calls for the county to review Essex-Windsor EMS and to provide funding necessary to improve the areas that are “in need.” That same letter will be sent to all municipalities and members of Parliament.

Essex-Windsor EMS chief Bruce Krauter attended town council’s April 10 meeting outlining what the service does. The 24-hour-per-day, 365-day-per-year service responded to over 103,000 requests for service in 2016 with roughly 58,000 patient contacts and approximately 39,000 patient transports. It has 12 stations, including the Simcoe St. base in Amherstburg, 38 ambulances, 12 emergency response vehicles and other support vehicles and trailers.

Amherstburg amounted for roughly five per cent of the call distribution in 2016 with Krauter adding that the town has seen an 8.6 per cent rise in call volumes. That is consistent with the region, with Krauter citing an aging population, increased residential development and retiree recruitment as factors in the rise.

Recruiting retirees to the area is great, he stated, but pointed out it is a “double-edged sword” due to the need for EMS services.

Off-load delays at area hospitals continue to put pressure on Essex-Windsor EMS, Krauter noted. As paramedics have to stay with the patients at the hospitals until they can be admitted, it ties up ambulances and resources that could otherwise be deployed elsewhere.

The recently introduced vulnerable patient navigator (VPN) program is producing “exceptional results,” said Krauter. The concept behind the VPN program is that it will alleviate calls for service and allow patients to receive the care they need without having to go to the hospital.

EssexWindsor EMS logo

Courtney said she appreciated Krauter coming to town council but questioned him over how ambulances are deployed. He noted that ambulances often go to the nearest call regardless of municipal boundaries and that municipal fire services often assist EMS at calls.

Councillor Rick Fryer wondered why all municipalities don’t use firefighters at calls, citing Leamington as an example. Fryer said if there is a city-county fee for service, all municipalities should be equal.

Councillor Diane Pouget said she was “very, very concerned” about the issue and said she “didn’t think it is fair” that Leamington isn’t paying for the same service Amherstburg is paying for.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said Leamington is paying for EMS with fire chief Al Reaume stating that Amherstburg has a tiered response agreement with the Essex-Windsor EMS which allows firefighters to attend calls while an ambulance is unavailable or a fair distance away.

Reaume said all municipalities except Leamington have a tiered response and that agreements are arrived at between Essex-Windsor EMS and each respective council. Amherstburg paid $61,000 through that program last year and Reaume suggested that if council is looking to recover costs, they should seek money from the Ontario government.

Councillor Leo Meloche said his belief is that it is up to each municipality on how much service they wish to provide, adding that the area is on the “front wave of the baby boom.”

Pouget believed the town should show it is not satisfied with the level of service and needs to show upper levels of government that fact.

“We want them to know we expect better for the citizens of Amherstburg,” she said.

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