New 24/7 ambulance will help “alleviate” some issues

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Sault Ambulance attended the collision, August 23, 2021 (Dan Gray/SaultOnline.com)

At one point, earlier this week, there was no ambulance available in Sault Ste. Marie. This is a issue which is common across the province and one of the reasons DSSAB is now funding a new 24/7 ambulance in the community.

The cost will be added to the budget request for the next fiscal year, with the cost for the rest of this year approved at Thursday’s meeting, at over $1.3 million.

Some of the stats that came out of the meeting confirmed the need for this ambulance.

Mike Nadeau provided to us some of the documentation based on the ask.

“We currently have six (6) ambulances within our service during the day and four (4) at night.  During the September 16th Board of Directors meeting, the Paramedic Chief recommended to the board that an additional 24-7 Paramedic crew be added to the service after reviewing calls for service data and trends over the past six months,” said Nadeau. “I am pleased to advise this recommendation was accepted and passed unanimously by the board. We intend to add the additional crew as soon a possible.”

He went on to tell SaultOnline that while the aim is to minimize the occurrences of having no ambulance available, this ultimately occurs in every paramedic service across Ontario periodically.  For example, when dispatch receives a seventh call for service within a very short time period, and our fleet of six has already been dispatched, there would be no ambulance at the station waiting to be dispatched to service for this call.

This may also occur where during the evening/night for example, we have three crews waiting at the hospital to off-load patients and subsequently receive an additional two calls for service.

According to Paramedic Chief Robert Rushworth, Sault Paramedics spend over 400 hours a month waiting at Sault Area Hospital to offload patients. There is currently an application in front of the Ministry of Health to try and reduce this, but it has yet to be approved.

Some of the other numbers provided last night to DSSAB include:

From January 1 to August 31, 2021

Total: dispatched on 11,691 calls, and transported as follows:

  • Emergent 770 (serious life/limb threatening)
  • Urgent 4,753
  • Scheduled transfer 331
  • Non urgent 2,342
  • Refused transport 2,682*
  • No patient found at scene 348 (of these 80% sent lights and siren response)

* If someone calls 911 requesting an ambulance, we are dispatched. Paramedics cannot
refuse to transport anyone requesting transfer to the hospital, the hospital is our only
acceptable destination except for prearranged/approved transfers. Paramedics must
ensure a person has the mental capacity to understand the consequences of not going
to the hospital. Even if the patient refuses transportation a significant amount time is spent
assessing, charting and dealing with these citizens , which is measured in our data. Of
those refusing transport the following primary problem was assigned on their charts.

  • Mental Health issues: 1,344 (50%),
  • Drug/alcohol abuse: 727 (27%),
  • Suspect or known opioid abuse 378 (14%)

According to Rushworth, between 22 and 25% of contacts are with individuals suffering from mental health and addictions.

The aim of the new ambulance is to help reduce the amount of times there is no unit able to respond to any type of call.

According to the union, the services is currently looking to hire 8 full-time and 2 part-time paramedics to help with the staffing of the organization.

Stay with SaultOnline as we continue to focus on healthcare in our community.

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