Why not adjust budgets to better address the needs of emergency services?
Lack of ambulance coverage is occurring all over the province. Wait times are increasing and response times are being affected. We need more ambulances on the road and funding for community paramedicine programs to help alleviate the strain on hospitals. Ambulance Paramedics are fundamental to saving lives. The government’s stated goal is to “improve transparency in health care by strengthening quality and accountability for patients.” (Bill 160, Strengthening Quality and Accountability for Patients Act, 2017)
The omnibus piece of legislation proposes to amend the Ambulance Act, if passed, will permit paramedics to transport patients to a non-hospital setting, such as mental health facilities, to better meet their needs and alleviate overcrowding in emergency departments. The Province’s planned consultation in 2018 on program design, regulations, standards and directives in order to safely implement this new approach has identified a number of safety concerns voiced by numerous stakeholders and the entire medical community.
While pleased with advancements for dispatching and the steps being taken to allow treat-and-release and treat-and-refer, we are concerned with the duplication of service being proposed for fire services; the fire-medic pilot project will pose additional unnecessary risk and expense to the public, and has failed to include interest arbitration safeguards. We feel provincial funding meant to enhance Ontario's Paramedic services needs to be spent on the Ambulance sector not municipal firetrucks.
RE: OPFFA "Fire-Medic" proposal
The grassroots Send Paramedics campaign is in direct opposition to the IAFF and their fire-based EMS initiatives in Ontario. Our mission has been to ensure public awareness and inform all elected officials about the increased costs associated with the fire union proposal. This “Fire-Medic” model will negatively impact municipalities and lacks any evidence for measurable improvements with patient outcomes.
We endorse current tiered response agreements for cardiac arrests, motor vehicle collisions, and sending the nearest available unit at the request of a paramedic for other immediate life threatening emergencies, but the truth is, these medical responses only make up a small subset of a Paramedic services total call volume. So, sending those who are trained to fight fires to meet the increasing demands of the medical community is an inefficient use of resources, especially since firefighters are not healthcare providers nor are they supposed to be. They do an excellent job with fire suppression, protection and prevention, and are strategically located to respond if a fire occurs (according to the NFPA 1720 standards). When one considers the fact that an ambulance will still be required to transport most patients to the hospital the duplication of service is apparent. Deliberately diverting precious funds to firetrucks will weaken access to ambulances. Investing in municipal firetrucks is not the answer and if the provincial government thinks we need "Fire-Medics', what they are really saying is we need more Paramedics, which should mean investing in more Ambulances.
Our ageing population needs emergency services in place which will properly assess and treat medical conditions and ultimately transport patients to definitive care. The Paramedic profession must grow as our community ages, but the cost to run our healthcare system must remain in check. We question any significant financial burden to taxpayers; like the model proposed by the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association. Look at the amount municipalities spend on fire departments and consider the rise in cost to fuel for these large fire apparatus to drive to medical calls. Think about the costs for additional equipment, medical supplies, education and training.
SERVICE DEMANDS COMPARISON
Fire Incidents --down 📉
Medical Emergencies --up 📈
PATIENT TRANSPORT CAPABILITIES
It's clear, we need more Paramedics... I'm clear, you're clear, we're all clear!