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Tbnewswatch Local News
Friday May 22 2015
4:28 AM EDT
2014-02-28 at 14:19

A better response

Superior North EMS chief Norm Gale.
Matt Vis,
Superior North EMS chief Norm Gale.
By Matt Vis,

Paramedics are trained to handle medical emergencies.

But they're also responding to numerous non-emergency calls that officials say wreak havoc throughout the entire system.

With the goal of alleviating that burden for emergency responders, Superior North EMS chief Norm Gale is looking to tap into a $6 million fund across the province to develop and create community paramedicine programs that would help divert non-urgent calls.

The programs would give people an alternative service to maximize the efficiency of emergency responders and provide financial savings.

“Paramedics are often getting sent to calls where they are not well-suited to provide that care,” Gale said on Friday.

“What a community paramedic could do in a new, unique fashion is provide care to those people or participate in the health care and social services system so those people get the care they need.”

The provincial funding, which was announced by the Ministry of Health in January, will seek to provide improved access to home care and other community support services.

That means fewer trips to hospital and creating better links to other resources.

Currently, paramedics are sent to a substantial number of calls that Gale identifies as being a result of psycho-social, poverty, violence or homeless issues.

Sending emergency responders who are not trained in those scenarios is not fair to the paramedics or the callers, he said.

Gale was on a ride along with paramedics recently and responded to a situation where the caller dialed 911 looking for a ride to the Shelter House. The Shelter House’s Street Outreach Services program was contacted and transported the individual.

To prevent instances like that from happening in the future, he envisions a program that can be aligned with social services such as the Shelter House and the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy to provide appropriate care throughout the community.

It would also be an avenue to utilize paramedics who are either injured or only able to perform limited duties.

In smaller communities across the district, Gale provided an example of paramedics doing scheduled home visits to elderly residents between calls to monitor their health and ensure the home is free of hazards. That would help them remain independent at home for longer, and not forcing them into a care facility.

A local task force composed of the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, Northwest Community Care Access Centre and the Northwest Local Health Integration Network will create a funding proposal to the Ministry of Health within the next six weeks.

They are seeking up to $300,000.

Earlier this week Gale and other members of the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs met with Minister of Health Deb Matthews, where she reaffirmed her support for the project.

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jasper says:
all these drunks and drug addicts know that shelter house won't take you if you are intoxicated, but the hospital will. everybody knows the quickest way to the hospital for a warm bed and a hot meal is by ambulance. perhaps if all the bleeding hearts out there stopped phoning 911 everytime they saw one of our locals taking a nap after a hard afternoon of drinking maybe we could free up essential services as well as beds at the regional.
3/2/2014 1:33:05 PM
hahawhatajoke says:
hmmmmm…… not want to do non-urent medical transfers from hospital to hospital, but then in turn wants to do community paramedicine because that is? Interesting!
3/1/2014 12:49:32 PM
averagejoe says:
I was wondering if anyone else was going to pick up on that.

Also, how 'bout this... Dispatcher to caller:
"Ma'am, unfortunately that "emergency" does not fall within the scope of our paramedics. This would not be fair to them or to you. Fortunately, there is a new program that only costs $6M where what we will do is send you a paramedic instead, and this will free up resources and save tax dollars..."

What!? *facepalm*
Well played, sir.

I'd like to hear exactly how this program stops the calls regarding homelessness. They will schedule a home visit? Same goes for violence, mental health and substance abuse.

In fact, this program is not designed to address those issues. Its actual purpose is to support seniors, and address their needs, that's it. Stop mixing up your dreams, Norm.
3/2/2014 9:10:24 PM
SomeGuy says:
I was waiting for the Bus at City all last week and there was an intoxicated women causing a disturbance. She wasn't being violent or nothing but was falling off the bench she was sitting. Clearly she needed help but instead of calling an Ambulance to deal with her they called the Shelter House SOS service to come and get her. Since she didn't require medical attention the SOS was the right choice.

We need to expand on these kind of programs, it costs a heck of lot less than using the police and paramedics to deal with these kind of problems.

3/1/2014 9:22:03 AM
unknowncronik says:
? to some, an emergency may be something you may think isn't an emergency, but to the caller it is at that time.

the ambulance service is here to serve the public & help as many people as they can regardless of the situation.

hopefully norm will understand that psycho-social, poverty, violence or homeless issues are real & they deserve the EXACT same response as those making $200k a year.

if an older person calls but its a false alarm, shouldn't the older person get a bill then too?

too many of you believe your a better person if you make more money, but we all know that's NOT TRUE & ALL deserve the same treatment regardless of income or what you look like.

norm put his foot in his mouth on his comment making it sound like some deserve to be billed over others. JUST SAD!


3/1/2014 4:41:31 AM
S Duncan says:
no, we're not all the same.

Don't lump me in with drug addicted drunks who consume resources like this.
3/1/2014 9:40:27 AM
Rubenicky says:
A very un-Catholic pronouncement! You are no better than any other human being.
Also, if you're addicted to nicotine you're a drug addict. When you have a stroke you'll take an ambulance away from a car accident victim, perhaps. No?
3/1/2014 6:16:35 PM
S Duncan says:
Who said anything about being "better"? I said we are not the same.

nor should we ever pretend to be. we should have our independent thoughts, choices, beliefs, tastes, concerns and preferences.

and who said anything about religion? Im a Muslim so why would my comment sound Catholic?

bottom line is we should pay for the services we require and we should not pay for those we do not.

if people were forced to pay for their ambulance rides they might be a little less likely to abuse this service.
3/2/2014 1:06:07 PM
pc says:
"help as many people."
That is what it is there for.
But if they are called out for someone with a broken arm, when they are quite capable of going in a taxi or car why call an ambulance?
Sure in the short term it saves the person money but look at the larger picture.
ambulance is transporting broken arm while a person is having a heart attack and has to wait.
There is the time limit for recovery in a heart attack and you miss it you could die.
When the dispatcher hears an address for the 3rd time in say a month, they wonder if it is another drunk or fight or something serious.
I am 58 years old and have called an ambulance once. My husband was having what we thought was a heart attack and I do not drive. It was taking too long for my comfort and I was going to drive him myself. I can drive just no license. But it showed up so saved me a ticket.
Care should be not on income but on need.
So limit your calls to a REAL need. Do your own triage and save us all some money.
3/1/2014 11:13:36 AM
appalled says:
No where does he state some people deserve to be billed over others. You may have got that from previous commenters but maybe you should reread the article.

The ambulance is for medical emergencies but with gaps in our emergency and social services too often it is being used for non emergency situations, like drunks who just need to get off the streets, as well as for elderly who don't need emergency medical care but don't know who else to call. This is why programs like SOS van and community paramedicine are needed to service those types of calls so that paramedics and police can be left to do what they are really mandated to do.
3/1/2014 2:40:25 PM
keep it real says:
cmon ya can't talk about welfare cheques .... it was prob just another poor innocent victim that needed a ride to the shelter house to pick up more free needles ....

3/1/2014 2:14:39 AM
whatelseisnew says:
I'm sorry but if you're high on drugs and need a ride to the shelter house and call 911 instead of a cab you should be without a welfare cheque for a month for being stupid and wasting everybody's time and tax payers money!
2/28/2014 5:07:03 PM
The Critic says:
Too bad we can't just send invoices of actual costs to all of the "frequent flyers" that needlessly tie up the resources of our paramedics, police and fire services. Can't get blood from a stone though I suppose. I can just imagine how much time and taxpayer money these nuisance calls must waste.
2/28/2014 2:53:31 PM
pc says:
It was suggested years ago to send any patient a bill on what it cost the province to pay for the service.
It was called unsympathetic unconstitutional and something only a heartless person would do.
So it never went ahead. I for one think a bill that you wouldn't have to pay would be a good idea. Sort of a heads up on what you would be paying if the gov. wasn't footing a lot of that bill.
but then I am only a heartless conservative so what do I know about compassion.
2/28/2014 4:20:56 PM
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