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HomeNewsKawartha Lakes Paramedics concerned about new provincial pilot project

Kawartha Lakes Paramedics concerned about new provincial pilot project

KAWARTHA LAKES- City of Kawartha Lakes Chief of Paramedics, Keith Kirkpatrick says a pilot project announced by he province on Monday is not the answer to issues with paramedic services.  “This seems to not be a well thought out solution to the paramedic issues in this province.”

The province announced that it would provide funding for two pilots in interested municipalities that will enable firefighters certified as paramedics to respond to low acuity calls to treat and release or treat and refer a patient, and provide symptom relief to high acuity calls.

Low acuity calls are essentially non urgent calls according to Kirkpatrick. They would be patients who are failing to thrive at home for example.

Kirkpatrick thinks most of the issues are not with paramedic response but rather ways to better manage ambulance offload delays at hospitals, inter facility hospital transfers, treat and release and outreach programs.

Kirkpatrick says he’s not sure how fire services fit into this. “Presently the fire service is not part of the health care system.” he says “Our present paramedic programs have spent decades to gain trust of from the health care system.”

The Ontario Association of Chief’s of Paramedics (OACP)expressed concern about lobbying by firefighters.  “We are, however, quite concerned about the government’s proposal to allow firefighters to perform paramedic skills on fire trucks – a proposal lobbied by the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association,” OAPC President Neal Roberts said. “There is clearly no evidence that expanding medical responses by certified paramedics while on fire service would in any way improve patient outcomes. Firefighters are already trained in CPR and public access defibrillation which provides the necessary skill set for responding to a sudden cardiac event call (CTAS-1). This is the only situation where evidence shows that seconds actually matter. Therefore, any assertion that this proposal would improve patient outcomes is misleading,” Roberts said.

Roberts says others, including the Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO), Mayors and Regional Chairs of Ontario (MARCO), and the Emergency Services Steering Committee of Ontario (ESSC) and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO)are united in opposing this proposal.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario weighed in on the issue Tuesday saying municipalities need to be consulted. “Given the legislative process, it is likely these pilots will not occur until 2018 at the earliest and there are willing municipal governments. There is still time for municipal input into this proposal.”

The province funds half of the cost of paramedic services but none of the cost of firefighting. AMO warns say the government must address labour concerns of the municipalities prior to the introduction of the pilot. “If it is truly to be an elective option for municipal governments, then it cannot be imposed without the support of councils.” said a press release from the group.

Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of health and Long Term Care says the pilot and other measures announced gently will improve service “Our government is committed to improving and modernizing our emergency health services system. Over one million people in Ontario are transported via ambulance each year. By improving the system, we are delivering timely, high quality care across Ontario.”

Locally our fire service provides basic life support as well as early defibrillation and it augments the paramedic system when paramedics are delayed. The focus is on critical care according to Kirkpatrick. “I question low acuity response by any emergency service. That focus should be on the present nurse practitioner, RN, RPN, RT and PSW outreach programs. Interconnecting them into the new communication model would be the best way to manage low acuity patients.”

Roberts says the proposal would not be good for taxpayers. “Municipal taxpayers fund fire services for the purpose of fighting fires, not for medical treatment and hospital transport. Shifting paramedical work from paramedics to firefighters would end up shifting some of the cost of health care from the province to municipalities and force taxpayer to pay for the same service twice.”

The province has not announced which municipalities would take part in the pilot project, when it would begin or how long it would run.

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Pamela Vanmeerhttps://www.kawartha411.ca/
Pamela VanMeer is a two time winner of the prestigious Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Award. Her investigative reports on abuse in Long Term Care Homes garnered international attention for the issue and won the Ron Laidlaw Award. She is a former reporter and anchor at CHEX News, now Global Peterborough and helped launch the New CHEX Daily, a daily half hour talk show. While at CHCH News in Hamilton she covered some of the biggest news stories of the day.

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