10/8/10

EMS response time reports delayed two years

The provincial government has slowed down the implementation of the new response time standards for emergency medical services. A revised provincial regulation now allows municipalities two more years before they must report on response times and their response time plans.


On September 17, 2010 Regulation 368/10 came into effect, amending the earlier Regulation (257/00) on response times. Under Regulation 257/00, municipalities were required to submit a response time performance plan to the government by 1 October 2010 for the following year.   Under the revised regulation, municipalities will now have until 1 October 2012 to do this. When filed with the Ministry of Health these plans will be publicly available.


Given the overcrowding in hospitals and the attendant backups in Emergency Rooms and "offload delays" for paramedics, the government probably appreciates putting off the reporting of the local plans until after the next election (now less than a year away). The delay will make it less likely that poor response times become an election issue. 


Regulation 257/00 also required the municipalities to report the following:


1. The percentage of times that a person equipped to provide any type of defibrillation has arrived on-scene to provide defibrillation to sudden cardiac arrest patients within six minutes of the time notice is received.


2. The percentage of times that an ambulance crew has arrived on-scene to provide ambulance service to sudden cardiac arrest patients or other patients categorized as CTAS I (i.e. the most urgent cases) within eight minutes.


3. The percentage of times that an ambulance crew has arrived on-scene to provide ambulance services to patients categorized as CTAS 2, 3, 4 and 5 within the response time targets set by the municipality.


With the regulatory change, municipalities will not have to report this data until March 31, 2014, instead of March 31, 2012. (A similar delay is also applicable to reports to the Ministry for EMS dispatch response times for CTAS 1 patients.)


The original regulation raised some question of a new and expanded role for fire fighters on EMS sudden cardiac arrest calls, as it opened up the possibility of fire fighters (or others persons equipped to provide defibrillation) "stopping the clock" on at least one form of response time for these calls.  


The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) says it worked with the Association of Managers of Emergency Medical Services of Ontario (AMEMSO) to seek these changes, arguing that the delay "will ensure all have appropriate access to the necessary data upon which to base local response time standards."


The development of EMS response time standards was the result of the joint provincial-municipal Land Ambulance Committee established in 2006.
 
dallan@cupe.ca

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