Tbnewswatch Local News
Wednesday July 1 2015
8:56 PM EDT
2014-04-30 at 15:59

SOS program helped take pressure off emergency services

Coun. Paul Pugh wants a Shelter House program to continue.
Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
Coun. Paul Pugh wants a Shelter House program to continue.
By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY -- A program that helped the city’s most vulnerable survive the winter also helped take pressure off emergency services.

Superior North EMS chief Norm Gale saw firsthand how well Shelter House's SOS cold weather program worked when he rode along with paramedics in January.

They responded, along with police, to a 911 call on a cold afternoon where a woman was outside of a convenience store. All she needed was a ride to a shelter. SOS arrived shortly after police and paramedics and brought her to shelter house, freeing up emergency services to respond to other calls.

"We could focus on the calls that are time sensitive and do require medical response and get there quicker," Gale said of EMS, which saw a slight drop in calls during the program's four months.

Without the program, which ended April 27, police and paramedics will now have to respond to those calls they're not suited for.

Coun. Paul Pugh said that means more time and money that was saved during the program. Keeping the program makes financial and social sense. It also might have saved some lives during an extremely cold winter.

"Possibly some of them would have died," Pugh said.

Ideally Pugh said the program wouldn't need to exist at all. But since it does, he wants to see it continue into the future.

"It's better for the community and the individuals concerned," he said.

Click here to submit a letter to the editor.

Click here to report a typo or error



We've improved our comment system.
smrtass says:
how much is the city whilling to pay ill get the licenses requierd and do 24/7 on call for 50$ per trip.
5/2/2014 10:44:07 AM
trips says:
every business or city have to think outside of the box for ways to save money ...in this situation inform these people to phone a cab and they will be paid by the city once at the shelter house
4/30/2014 5:45:04 PM
tsb says:
This programme cost less per trip than cab rides.

And considering how difficult it is to get a cab, and how much of a burden operating a cab company in this city can be, how could you seriously suggest something like this?

SOMEONE is going to have to pick up homeless people and bring them somewhere safe. Do you want it to be well-paid police and EMS workers, bus drivers, cab drivers, or dedicated volunteers?
5/1/2014 11:38:48 PM
homelessteen says:
Ok so police and paramedics are still responding to these calls, but then yet another service comes in to give rides? That's saving us money?

How about we free up some hospital beds and put the drunks in the drunk tank where they belong.

4/30/2014 4:54:27 PM
fastball says:
Because there's a big difference between a 12-month service that costs 200K a year and getting our police and emergency services (that cost MILLIONS) to provide the same service.
Why should we take a police officer (who costs 100K a year and 100 bucks an hour) or ambulance personnel to do this kind of stuff? They're NOT in the drunk/homeless removal/relocation business.
SOS picked up those people that needed help and took them where they needed to go. They did it quickly and didn't have to tie up an officer that might be saving a life someplace.
Boy, I'd feel SO MUCH BETTER when my emergency responder takes an hour to arrive - knowing that the officer was busy collecting a sleeping vagrant that wasn't posing a danger to anyone.
PS...what's a "drunk tank"? And do you think our jail cells are the appropriate place for a guy whose had too much to drink - yet wasn't causing anybody any harm?
5/1/2014 9:00:40 AM
dillon says:
Fastball, you're wasting your breath. The people you're talking to have no interest in facts or thinking past their noses. They see $200,000 and say "me no want spend money on drunks" without realizing that it's SAVING the city money. It's sad, because there will be perfectly reasonable arguments against the event centre when all the facts are known, and the debate will be ridiculous because the no side will have these people leading the charge.
5/1/2014 9:23:40 AM
homelessteen says:
Oh Fastball where to begin.
A drunk tank is where a person who gets so sloppy drunk in public they can't take care of themselves spends the night also know as a jail cell.

And yes I absolutely feel that is where they belong.
I have a huge problem with working 18 hours a day to provide extra services to a person who chooses to live that way.

I have a problem with paying for duplicate services. In this case what seems like triplicate services.

5/1/2014 9:33:15 AM
AngusC says:
Do you think throwing someone in the "drunk tank" as you call it is free?

No one made you get the job you got that has you working 18 hour days. If you don't like it get a better job. I have a neighbour down my street who refuses to make sure his dogs are enclosed and his kids are behaving and not throwing footballs through peoples' windows because he is never home to supervise. Should I be subsidizing police getting called because of his kids and animal services repeatedly because of his dogs? Hmm.
5/1/2014 11:42:28 AM
fastball says:
Homelessteen...yeah, I KNOW what a "drunk tank" is. But that's a jail cell, right? A place where they put criminals awaiting trial?
A cell shouldn't be some place where they merely park a guy who's sleeping it off. Do you think this stuff is FREE? The cop costs 100 bucks an hour. It takes him and his car off the radar and out of service...for what? To handle a vagrant/a drunk? And then throw the guy in a holding cell...that's another perfect utilization of funds and resources. Someone's gotta watch him.
SOS took these people (who weren't breaking any real laws) and took care of them by taking them to where they needed to go - which, 90 percent of the time didn't need to be incarceration - merely someplace to eat or sleep.
I don't need a 100K a year cop or ambulance crew to get a guy like that to a hot meal.
If I'm going to pay taxes for social services - I'd think that this was a direct way to really help people - and not have all of it sucked up by bloated administration costs.
5/1/2014 12:03:30 PM
homelessteen says:
Its ok to disagree Fastball.

If some person needs a free ride how about we let them on the bus.

That way they get extended service hours and it only costs us 2.65 a ride.

But to claim this as some other form of essential service at a cost to the tax payer is BS.
5/1/2014 3:31:44 PM
fastball says:
Put them on the bus??? Seriously?
Congratulations...you win the prize for the dumbest comment today.
I'm on the phone right now to the ambulance for a guy who's sitting here at my workplace, whose had a few too many. He needs to leave, but he can't walk. I'm calling a 100 dollar an hour cop/ambulance right now...merely for a guy who's too unsteady on his feet to walk out of here safely.
I'm sure the bus driver and passengers would appreciate your suggestion - simpleminded as it is.
5/1/2014 4:39:22 PM
homelessteen says:
Wow name calling. That's so intelligent of you.

Like I said its ok to disagree, no need to get so emotional.

Btw I stand by my position, if your too wasted to get on the bus because you are a danger to yourself, or others, jail is the perfect place for you. How much does it cost to have an empty jail cell? If you think its free your wrong and its clear your understand of the true costs involved is clouded by your emotions.
5/2/2014 8:01:03 AM
fastball says:
PS...I never claimed it was "essential".
I said 200K per year for this service was an infinitely better use of taxpayers' money than diverting our high-priced police and EMS personnel to situations like this.
200K is barely the cost of 1 1/2 police officers.
5/1/2014 5:31:43 PM
homelessteen says:
And Ps
You are totally ignoring the fact that police and ambulance are still being dispatched to these calls.
5/2/2014 8:11:50 AM
fastball says:
Says who?
As a person who has actually used that service - I don't call BOTH the police and the SOS people.
Why would anyone do that?
5/2/2014 1:06:28 PM
homelessteen says:
Says the article that's who.

Geez for the smart one you missed that?

So you are qualified to make the call if someone needs medical attention for alcohol poisoning? Because, the people you are describing, you know the ones who can't even take a bus sound like the may need at the very least assessed, no?

5/2/2014 2:35:26 PM
fastball says:
Yes, you're right. They did call both services in the article.
I was speaking more of if they did institute the service, there would be no need to call both.
Sorry for the misunderstanding.
5/3/2014 12:37:17 PM
homelessteen says:
So if it is implemented in the long term, does the average person stop calling 911 when they come across an unresponsive person laying on the sidewalk?

I appreciate the debate Fastball no apology required.
5/4/2014 1:59:10 PM
tsb says:
It actually costs Thunder Bay Transit $7.81 for someone to ride the bus. The $2.65 is simply the portion of the fare that we make riders pay; Transit is required by by-law to recover a minimum of 30% of its budget through fares.

Also, putting them on the buses just shifts the burden of caring for these people from police and medical professionals or shelter staff and onto bus drivers. How is that a better option?
5/1/2014 11:36:59 PM
S Duncan says:
If Paul Pugh thinks it should continue, then he should fund it with his own money. Perhaps you can get Bombardier's union to help Paul?

What Pugh needs to worry about is what the McKellar Ward constituents want, not what he wants.
4/30/2014 4:15:21 PM
tsb says:
This programme frees up EMS services, allowing them to respond to other emergencies in a more timely fashion to more effectively help people with serious medical needs. The faster care will make their medical situation less dire, meaning the total cost of their treatment will be less. This saves you money.

The programme only cost several thousand dollars, which works out to a few cents per taxpayer. The people running it were volunteers, unlike EMS. The vehicle was donated.

This programme is what many residents of McKellar Ward, especially the southern portion of the ward around Downtown Fort William, not only want, but have been asking for for some time.

Paul Pugh was speaking for many McKellar residents when he made that comment.
5/1/2014 11:32:38 PM
homelessteen says:
Volunteers and a free vehicle but still a cost of 200k a year?

5/2/2014 8:19:21 AM
Girardin says:
Where did you get that figure?

Oh gosh. A few cents out of your pocket to make sure people didn't freeze to DEATH. How cold can you get?? Bizarre, truly bizarre.
5/3/2014 12:19:06 AM
homelessteen says:
When did I say let them freeze?

5/3/2014 8:07:09 PM
Comments for this story are semi-moderated. Read our comment guideline.

Add a new comment.
You must log in to add comments.
Create a new account
Log In