Council Approves Extra 12 Hours Of Daily EMS Service

A Chatham-Kent Fire and Emergency Services Ambulance (Photo by Jake Kislinsky)

Chatham-Kent is putting an extra ambulance on the roads during peak hours to help ease the municipality’s increasing demands for service.

Chatham-Kent council voted unanimously at Monday night’s meeting to approve a motion for an additional 12 hours of service to be added to the current level of EMS for the remainder of 2018, which will cost an extra $312,237 from this year’s Ambulance Reserve. The expanded service will be included in the Medavie contract through 2021.

The additional staffing will be available between 2pm and 2am, which is typically when the EMS system sees a higher demand for service. This will mean an increase of 8,760 staffing hours annually.

The request for additional service hours comes after concerns were noted by the municipality’s service contractor Medavie regarding the pressure Chatham-Kent EMS faces due to an increasing demand for service.

During budget deliberations in January, council approved the purchase of a new ambulance to address availability issues during peak period shift changes.

According to the municipality’s report, another serious concern is an increase in “Code Zero” occurrences. A Code Zero occurrence is when there are three or fewer ambulances available to respond to emergency paramedic service requests within the municipality at a given time.

Chatham-Kent’s Code Zero events have increased by 254.9% over the last five years, according to CK EMS data. The duration of these events has also increased, with the average length of one hour and 29 minutes.

Don MacLellan, general manager of Medavie EMS Ontario, says the annual requests for service have steadily increased year over year since 2012. He says the call demand is a big factor in Code Zero situations.

Councillor Steve Pinsonneault called the investment in additional ambulance hours a necessity during the meeting, noting that there is a lot of stress on the municipality’s EMS system and more money would need to be invested eventually anyways.

According to Assistant Fire Chief Chris Case, the additional 12 hours of service will start in either August or September. Chatham-Kent will be getting its fleet of new ambulances in September.