Emergency response times in Niagara

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Emergency response times:  The Niagara Emergency Medical System (EMS) dispatch center has seen an increase in the emergency call volume of 16.7% between 2007 and 2009, which is substantially higher than the average 6% increase across Ontario.  There are 17 ambulance bases throughout the region with 30 emergency service vehicles, staffed by over 230 Advanced and Primary Care Paramedics. The Niagara-based emergency medical communication centre receives over 70,000 calls a year and provides a vital link between the caller and the response crews 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The average time that it takes dispatchers to send out the call is considerably lower than that of the Ontarioaverage (1:50 versus 2:40). The time that it takes between the dispatched call being received by the paramedics and the time that they arrive on the scene remains comparable with 2007 times (9:53) and is still below the provincial average (10:39); however, response levels are varied based on geographic locations and varied distances  in different municipalities. The time ambulances spend at the hospital in excess of the standard 30 minutes per call is also a consideration. This time can include the time it takes to transfer the patient and delays in transfer of care due to a lack of hospital resources (commonly referred to as off -load delay), paperwork, and other activities. The significance of the time spent in the hospital is that the more time spent by paramedics in the hospital part of the process, the less time they may be available to respond to new emergency calls.  In Niagara, 12.2% of ambulance time is lost to hospital turnaround off-loads, which has decreased from 2007, and is lower than the provincial average rate of 16.7. Source: Ontario Municipal Benchmarking Initiative 2009

This chart illustrates how many calls the EMS provider is receiving per 1,000 population basis. The services in Sudbury and Thunder Bay do more non-emergency patient transfers than the other services, which generally utilize private contractors. Overall EMS responses have increased by 6% over the past 2 years. Source: Ontario Municipal Benchmarking Initiative 2009

Costs of emergency medical services:  The cost associated with providing emergency medical services is also an important factor in service delivery.  In 2009,Niagara estimated that the average cost to provide one hour of in-service vehicle service was $149.00.  InOntario, the average comparable cost is $161.00 with a range of $146.00 (London) to $202.00 (Toronto).

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