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EMS continues to look for efficiencies in the county



 

As call volumes for ambulances increases in the region, the strain upon Windsor-Essex EMS continues.


EMS Chief Justin Lammers reported that his service continues to find ways to handle more and more calls during last Wednesday’s county council meeting.


“Year-after-year we are increasing. We continue to work diligently to find efficiencies,” he said.


In 2015, there were 52,000 calls and that is predicted to jump to 65,000 by 2025. Lammers said that there was a seven percent increase in 2023 from the previous year.


Lammers told county council that some of the programs they are utilizing are being part of the designated off-load nurse program at hospitals, along with upstaffing ambulances during periods of high volume, as well as being in constant communication with the hospitals themselves.


Lammers also said that they are trying all options with their hospital partners and that the Paramedic Off Load Program is good, but could be coming to an end.


“We started the paramedic off-load program two years ago to combat rising increases in Code Blacks.”


Code Black is when no ambulances in the area are available. Code Red is when up to three are available and Code Yellow is 4 to 10 are in service.


The off-load program allows one ambulance crew to take over for up to three others at the hospital during off-load delays which could therefore put two ambulances back into the community.


“While this is a good program to leverage in a crisis such as a mass casualty incident, it’s not a process we want to use on a regular basis,” said Lammers.


Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara wanted to know what the actual value was of having that program. 


Essex Mayor Sherry Bondy was concerned about the increase in calls and LaSalle Mayor Crystal Meloche wanted to know whether or not having more ambulances was the solution to solving some of the off-load problems.


“I don’t think anyone would disagree that EMS has been overworked and put in a very strenuous, unfair situation for many years now,” said Meloche.


Lammers said that the service is working on a master plan that is moving in the right direction and that the county might be called upon, in the future, to lobby the province for some assistance.


Also last Wednesday night, the county pre-approved the purchase of several new EMS vehicles as part of the 2025 budget. This will include buying eight ambulances at $1,878,195 (plus HST), two emergency response vehicles with conversion for $249,642, and two new pickup trucks also with conversion at $318,000.


Considering replacements, the EMS adds one new ambulance to its fleet to support the increase in paramedic staffing.


EMS continues to look for efficiencies in the county

By Fred Groves

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