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.