9/21/10

Solving ambulance delays

With hospital cuts, there has been some problems with ambulance offload delay, as paramedics wait longer to offload their patients to overloaded hospital staff.  As noted earlier, Niagara region reports a 68% increase in offload delays

This in turn puts pressure on EMS response times as paramedics are forced to wait in ERs.

Some municipal leaders have mused about sending more fire trucks to EMS calls, as a way to respond to this problem.   

But fire trucks are among the most expensive items for municipalities. The 2007 Performance Benchmarking Report (from the Ontario municipal Chief Administrative Officers and City Managers) reports that  each fire vehicle cost $281 per in-service hour in Hamilton, $284 in Toronto, $239 in London, $270 in Thunder Bay, and $207 in Ottawa. The median cost for urban municipalities was $239 per hour, the same as the Toronto rate.

In contrast, one hour of in-service ambulance time cost $147 in 2007. With a $92 differential that means a savings of $184,000 for 2,000 hours of service, if emergency medical services are provided by an ambulance and paramedics rather than a fire vehicle and firefighters.

Part of this differential is likely the high number of managers in Fire Departments. Fire Departments run at a staff to management ratio of 4:1 whereas EMS averages 9:1.



dallan@cupe.ca

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