911 EMS calls get a lot longer: Hospital offload delay cited

Paramedics are spending 10 minutes longer on emergency calls in 2011 compared to 2010 in Hamilton.  EMS Director Brent Bowett told the Hamilton Spectator that time is mostly spent off-loading patients at hospitals.

Hospital bed overloads ultimately back up in emergency rooms, forcing paramedics to wait until hospital staff can assume care for ambulance patients.  

Hospital restructuring and a growing demand for EMS are also cited as reasons for the growing strain on the EMS system. 

Mario Posteraro, the head of OPSEU local that represents paramedics in Hamilton, told the Spectator, “Clearly there’s a need for additional front-line services. I think we’ll be back before council asking for additional resources".

Hamilton city councillors want the province to provide an additional $585,000 for an extra ambulance crew to be on call 12 hours a day, seven days a week.  That would cover 100% of the extra costs.  (Typically the province pays 50% of approved costs only.)

The province, however,  shows little interest in maintaining existing service levels.  The provincial government is trying to to soften up the public for more cuts in service levels via a new report from Bay street economist Don Drummond.

Time will tell which side wins out -- more cuts, or maintaining service levels.  

Photo: Hamilton Spectator

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