Paramedic Response Time Update

May 17, 2017

As many of you may be aware, I have been very vocal over previous Council’s decision to freeze any hiring of new paramedics. Our City has grown and our aging population has increased, but without hiring more paramedics and additional vehicles, we had been unable to keep up with the demand.

After extensive work in 2015 with Mayor Watson, General Manager of Emergency & Protective Services Anthony Di Monte, and my council colleagues, we were able to increase funding, which has since provided 50 new paramedics and 6 new vehicles.

During today’s Community and Protective Services (CPS) committee meeting, we received the Ottawa Paramedic Services 2017 Annual Report. Ottawa Paramedic Services Chief Myles Cassidy announced that they are now meeting Council’s goals for critical response times thanks to the decision to hire more staff in 2015. Chief Cassidy also noted that there are new paramedic staff who have completed their training and will be on the road soon; this will continue to help match the increasing call volume and response times to people in need.

At peak times of the day, calls to the dispatch centre can exceed 1 call per every 1-2 minutes. In one instance, 17 ambulances and their on-board staff were held up at the hospital for hours, while waiting to transfer their patients into the care of nurses and doctors. Chief Cassidy is actively in discussions with local area hospitals, to ensure staff can return to service and prevent unnecessary delays.

I asked the CPS committee to provide any needed support for Chief Cassidy in these discussions with the hospitals, since the timeliness of our Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staff is crucial to the well-being and safety of City of Ottawa residents.

With so many factors coming into play during an emergency call, we will always need to examine each step thoroughly to mitigate delays. In 2015, we identified the cities growth, and council’s actions has addressed the need to invest in more paramedic staff and vehicles. Now reaching our targets thanks to these investments, we will be facing a new challenge moving forward.

I trust that our EMS team, with the support of council will find as solution to ensure paramedic staff are always available without delay.