Tbnewswatch Local News
2014-01-29 at 4:36PM

System clogged

Superior North EMS chief Norm Gale speaks with NOMA members Wednesday morning.
Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
Superior North EMS chief Norm Gale speaks with NOMA members Wednesday morning.
By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

A pilot project to ease pressure on the region's ambulance system has all the support it needs but no funding yet.

Superior North EMS chief Norm Gale said non-urgent transfers are clogging up the system.

Using paramedics and ambulances to move patients makes emergency response less reliable and difficult for a system that wasn't designed for the duty.

"Frankly we don't do it well," he said.

Private companies, taxis and patients' families have pick up some of the slack but it's not enough.

Gale has a pilot project ready to go that would see non-urgent transfers in the city moved to an alternate system. In the region ambulances would still provide the service when needed.

"This would be much more efficient and much more reliable because these calls would not have to compete with 911 calls and there would be much more reliability in the system," he said after speaking with the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association Wednesday morning. 

The idea has the support from regional hospitals, the Northwest Local Health Integration Network, St. Joseph's Care Group and Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. But so far there's no one to cover the estimated $800,000 in 2012 per year in operating costs.

Gale is hoping NOMA brings it to the province's attention when representatives are at the Ontario Good Roads Association meeting next month in Toronto.

"It's a provincial problem and it needs to be addressed," he said.

But the issue has been brought up to the province by NOMA for the past four years. Kenora mayor and NOMA president Dave Canfield said he'll probably be much more direct this time around. Homework has been done, the project is ready and the support is there.

"Fund it, lets see what happens," he said. "I'm going to point right to the minster (of health Deb Matthews) and say 'commit right now. We're not leaving the room 'til you commit'. So we'll see what happens."

Canfield credits the Liberal government with taking on costs downloaded to municipalities in the past. But nearly $1 million, even spread around Northern municipalities, to fund this project is not something the region should have to do.



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