911 "beat the queue calls" -- Emergency Room backups

With long line-ups at hospital Emergency Rooms, people are beginning to call ambulances to take them to the ER, hoping the ambulance and paramedics will speed them through the ER.   "We call them beat-the-queue calls," John Prno, regional director of emergency medical services reported.

Paramedics have to stay with the patient until they are seen by hospital staff, which reduces ambulance availability, the Waterloo Record reports, creating offload delays where paramedics must wait in the hospital rather than save other patients in the community.  

Offload delays at Waterloo hospitals increased by 20 per cent in 2011 for a total of 6,990 hours, the equivalent of an ambulance parked 24 hours a day for 291 days.

The good news? The number of Code Reds, where no local ambulances are available for an emergency call, dropped to 12 per month from an average of one a day in 2010. The EMS director noted that the hiring of five paramedics last year and another five on July 1 should help.

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