Emergency calls in county continue to rise

By Chad Ingram

March 14 2017

The number of calls to the Haliburton County Paramedic Service continues to climb year over year.

Councillors on the county’s EMS advisory committee received a report on 2016 call volumes during a March 8 meeting.

There was a 7.27 per cent increase in calls received for a total of 6504 up from 6063 in 2015.

There was an 8.3 per cent increase in emergency calls with 223 additional calls for a total of 2834.

“The primary concern with increases in call volumes is our ability to meet our response time plan” read the report from paramedic deputy chief Jim Young.

The county’s topography and widely dispersed population can make it challenging for the service to meet time targets.

“They’re never going to meet time targets in Harcourt or the far side of Percy Lake” said Dysart et al Reeve Murray Fearrey. “We all have areas that will not be met.”

The number of non-emergent transfers decreased in 2016 to 183 from 208 the year before.

The service had made a concerted effort during the past couple of years to reduce non-emergency calls through measures such as not assigning non-emergency transfers between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

“The intent of these reductions is to ensure our ambulances are available for emergency calls” Young’s report read. “We continue to monitor and make necessary adjustments to the deployment plan to ensure appropriate allocation of our resources. We have proactively been collaborating with the hospital administration to ensure each organization understands the challenges we are presented with.”

The county keeps two ambulances – one manned 24 hours a day and one 12 – at the EMS base in Haliburton Village one ambulance manned 24 hours a day at the Minden base and one manned 12 hours a day at its Tory Hill base.

There was an increase in standby calls or Code 8 calls up 243 to 3487.

“Our deployment plan requires fluid movement of our ambulances in an attempt to provide emergency coverage by positioning in the geographical areas that have had historically higher call volumes” the report read. “In addition to the positioning of resources to provide emergency coverage a Code 8 may be generated for a fire or police incident where ambulance presence has been requested.”

Since 2013 call volumes have increased by nearly 20 per cent with no resources added the report indicates.

Fearrey said he’d like to see a breakdown of how much time staff spend responding to calls versus downtime.

“I think that would be an interesting stat for us to have” Fearrey said. “Not that anything can be done about it.”