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Friday September 4 2015
11:43 PM EDT
2014-01-10 at 11:31

Take control

Superior North EMS chief Norm Gale intends on Monday to ask city council to begin the process of asking the province to shift control of the dispatch centre to his operation, similar to agreements in Toronto and Ottawa.
Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com
Superior North EMS chief Norm Gale intends on Monday to ask city council to begin the process of asking the province to shift control of the dispatch centre to his operation, similar to agreements in Toronto and Ottawa.
By Leith Dunicak, tbnewswatch.com

Norm Gale wants the Superior North EMS to follow the lead of communities such as Toronto, Ottawa and Niagara and take operational control of its dispatch service.

Superior North EMS chief Norm Gale on Monday intends to ask council to begin the process and seek permission from the province to begin the transformation, which he said will have zero financial impact on operations.

The province funds dispatch centres across Ontario, but has slowly begun allowing a number of communities to take the reins.

Gale said his biggest concern is the methodology of the present system.

“It routinely over-prioritizes EMS calls,” Gale said, stressing patient health is not compromised under either the present system or the one he’s proposing.

In some areas of the province, under the tiered-response system, dispatchers routinely assign up to 80 per cent of calls as life threatening, when in reality only 10 to 15 per cent of calls actually are.

“It would frankly eliminate operational barriers and allow us to investigate different triage tools. Such a regimen would be done with full funding by the province.”

According to the report Gale plans to deliver Monday night, the system as it stands effects Superior North EMS’s ability to deliver effective and responsive paramedic services, it limits opportunity to make system improvements locally or proactively address operational issues in real time.

There is also no performance agreement or accountability framework set up to dispatch paramedics or strategically place ambulances in anticipation of the next call.

Across Ontario there are 22 land-based EMS dispatch centres in Ontario, with 11 operated directly by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.

Thunder Bay’s dispatch centre is responsible for handling calls throughout the District of Thunder Bay, the service area covered by Superior North EMS.

Should the province hand over control of the dispatch centre, Gale said continued efficiencies with police and fire rescue will be sought.


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