Ambulance Service: By the numbers

SSM Ambulance
SSM ambulances in their bays courtesy of SSM Ambulance Service FB page

In the past week, we conducted a short interview with Mike Nadeau, CEO of the District of Sault Ste. Marie Social Services Administration Board (DSSMSSAB).

The DSSMSSAB is responsible for land ambulance emergency medical services (EMS) from Garden River First Nation in the East to Montreal River in the North; including the City of Sault Ste. Marie, Prince Township, etc. As such, the responses below represent our district’s entire coverage area, which also includes the City of Sault Ste. Marie.

How many ambulances are in service inside the city limits of Sault Ste. Marie at any given time? I know it can vary by a couple here and there but scheduled.

We have 3 ambulances scheduled 24/7 plus two additional 12-hour shifts daily (5 total) at our main base located within the City of Sault Ste. Marie. We also have one 24/7 ambulance based in Garden River First Nation and one paramedic response unit posted in Goulais River (Sault North) twelve hours a day.

How bad are the off-load delays at Sault Area Hospital (SAH)? What are some solutions to help this?

We track and share the off-load times with SAH in a continued effort to work in partnership to improve any pressure points. With the COVID-19 pandemic, off-load delay times have increased compared to pre-COVID norms. We are working with SAH to improve any off-load delays as they occur.

What is the average response time for an ambulance within city limits?

Between January 1 and October 31 we have been dispatched on over 12,600 calls, with an average response time of 8.4 minutes for the district. Priority calls (lights and sirens used), had an average response time of 7.85 minutes (6,800 calls).

What is the planned response time, is it higher or lower than the average?

Our latest submitted plan to the Ministry of Health (MOH) regarding response time targets for 2021 is as follows:

Type of Call by CTAS Target Time in minutes Response Time Performance Plan Goal %
SCA 6 60
CTAS 1 8 75
CTAS 2 10 80
CTAS 3 15 80
CTAS 4 20 80
CTAS 5 30 80

Note: Our service has, and continues, to meet its response time targets on a quarterly and annual basis.

How many times in the past year have you had a zero service level (no clean ambulances available) inside city limits?

This year, out of 12,600 calls, there have been 43 instances when an emergency response was delayed as a result of no ambulance being immediately available when the call came in.

What would cause that type of issue?

There are a variety of reasons; such as call volume surge, patient severity, patient extrication, weather, off-load delays, long-distance/remote calls, vehicle failure, on-duty staff injury/illness, etc.

Does the service require anything from the province that could help going forward?

We continue to have a great relationship and partnership with our provincial partners.


  1. First of all. I think our local paramedics do a fantastic job. I think the move away from the city’s control under Sault Fire Services was the best move for them. The DSSAB seems to be moving them in the right direction and constantly improving their operations. Recently adding a satellite station to the downtown area.
    Is there any info as far as how many actual calls are for each level of CTAS? To be honest I had to look up the CTAS levels to see what they mean. SCA(Sudden Cardiac Arrest) shows they are able to meet the standard response of 6 minutes, only 60% of the time. Why is that? How many actual SCA level calls were there? What time of day? These seem to the highest level call and 60% is not a super high number. Maybe DSSAB should be looking to add more ambulances if these calls are more prevalent during the times of delay or when there are only 3 ambulances running. Does the city have a tiered response with Police and Fire? If not that may help to improve some of these numbers, at least with SCA and CTAS1 calls. Did COVID 19 have much affect on response times? Did not see mention of that at all. Keep up the good work, paramedics. And whoever looks after your building might want to spend a little $$ on that parking lot. It looks like some of the city streets. I imagine it adds to wear and tear on the vehicles.

Comments are closed.