The 24-hour ambulance coverage that has now been started in the Town of Erin is expected to reduce the need to dispatch firefighters to medical emergencies.
Town Council recently had a delegation from Colleen Clack, Deputy CAO at the City of Guelph, which administers the Land Ambulance Service, and Andy MacDonald, General Manager of Emergency Services.
Councillors thanked Guelph for the long-awaited increase in paramedic staffing from 12 to 24 hours at the Hillsburgh Fire Station, which will also be funded 40 per cent (about $225,000) in the first year by the County of Wellington.
“This should reduce the demand for fire response,” said MacDonald. Under the Tiered Response Agreement, firefighters are dispatched on medical calls when there is a life-threatening situation or when the estimated time for paramedics to arrive is more than 15 minutes.
With paramedics available close by more often, firefighters will be dispatched less often, reducing costs for the Town.
Paramedics will be based in Erin, but not necessarily be present in the town 24 hours every day, since they are often redeployed throughout the region based on medical needs. Erin residents will continue to benefit from coverage when needed from neighbouring stations in Wellington, as well as Acton and Caledon.
Guelph-Wellington Emergency Medical Service has a 10-year plan for other service improvements.
“As we enhance Centre Wellington or Rockwood, there will be better service for Erin,” said MacDonald. “You will benefit from all expansion.”
Councillor Matt Sammut said he expects that the added coverage will reduce the average response times for ambulance calls, and he asked for statistics on actual response times in Erin. Clack and MacDonald did not have the figures, but said they would provide them.
Guelph-Wellington EMS responded to 21,775 calls in 2016. Response times include tracking how often paramedics can reach the scene of a high-priority call within eight minutes.
They can do that 79 per cent of the time in the City of Guelph, but in a less-populated area such as Erin, it has been only about 19 per cent of the time.