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More calls means more paramedics for Prescott-Russell

Paramedic response times have suffered in the last year due to an increasing number of calls.   

According to a resolution at the latest council meeting of the United Counties of Prescott-Russell (UCPR), total call volume went up 14 per cent last year.

As a result, UCPR is considering adding two new positions within the emergency services department.

Part of that is due to Prescott-Russell paramedics responding to calls in Ottawa, but Louis Rathier says that’s not the only reason.

“Obviously, if we didn’t need to respond to those calls, that percentage would be a little lower,” says the deputy chief of emergency services for Prescott-Russell. “But that’s not what would make (the volume) go from 14 per cent to the two or three per cent we had anticipated.”

Rathier also echoed the council’s resolution in saying paramedics are dealing with more and more critical situations.

Rapid response

If approved, the two new positions would cost about $114,500 and would be added to the department in July next year as part of the rapid-response unit.

That means the paramedics would be travelling in small vehicles instead of ambulances.

“The idea is to send our paramedic response unit (PRU) immediately to begin treatment in waiting for the ambulance to arrive,” says Rathier.

The benefits, says Rathier, of a PRU is faster treatment, but they also avoid the principle of seamlessness that dictates the nearest available ambulance has to respond to a call.

That principle has led to Prescott-Russell paramedics responding to hundreds of calls in Ottawa over the past couple of years—and lots of headbutting between UCPR and Ottawa emergency services.

Council will make its final decision about the new positions at its upcoming budget deliberations later this month.