What if you called an ambulance because you’ve just suffered a heart attack or your loved one is bleeding to death because of an accident and the response was there’s not one available but one is on its way from Ottawa?
Well this is a reality and everyone in the three United Counties of SD&G and the city of Cornwall needs to make this an election issue by demanding from any politician asking for their vote in any municipality that they promise that if elected that they will seek a committee at the Three United Counties level to fully investigate the ambulance service provided to over 110,000 citizens in 3000 square miles that the SD&G is responsible for.
A year ago in September I became concerned about the building of a Central Ambulance Station that would’ve increased the distance to emergencies to many areas west of Cornwall.
At the time I wrote several letters to the editor and spoke to several local township council members. One of those members Tammy Hart became very concerned but told me that as a counsellor she had very little input on the issue but she would bring it up to Council so that council’s representatives at the counties level would be informed and it would be up to them to follow up.
Fortunately South Stormont’s council members were concerned and requested a meeting between Cornwall emergency services who oversees Ambulance service for SD&G and the Manager of Emergency Services for Cornwall Myles Cassidy gave his presentation to S. Stormont’s Counsel on April, 22, 2010 I was invited to be there and given permission to ask questions.
The Chief was very open and it soon became apparent to me that the location of this new station was minor to what the chief revealed to us, in fact I never even raised the concern because of the much larger threat to life and limb that became apparent.
In short it was revealed that many times there is only one ambulance available for 110,000 people covering 3000 square miles., and at times there are none. This of course is unacceptable and can only be changed by forming a committee to fully investigate the ambulance services throughout SD &G and city of Cornwall. But this committee will probably not be formed unless you elect representatives to your township or city that pledge to fully investigate and ensure that every citizen has the ambulance protection that we pay for and deserve.
You may be surprised to find out that the reason we do not have a ambulance available many times is because a City of Ottawa who appears to also suffer from a shortage of ambulances under mutual aid laws mandated by the province are using ambulances from the Municipalities that are transferring patients to the specialized hospitals in Ottawa and minute the ambulance radios dispatch to say they are free to take calls and returning to their home base they are grabbed to do Ottawa calls not always life threatening .
Also because emergency departments are short staffed because of poor funding ambulance paramedics are forced to wait six hours or more to transfer a patient to an emergency nurse.
I also firmly believe that the City of Ottawa has a Serious Ambulance Shortage and under existing provincial rules and the amount of ambulances from all the surrounding communities that take patients there on a daily basis it allows them to not have to address this issue saving their tax payers millions of dollars while putting our communities at risk as we subsidize the much more affluent community of Ottawa.
Also complicating this now is a new directive demanding at all ambulances report to Cornwall home base to change shift and added to this that the positioning of ambulances be done according to historical data means that villages like Morrisburg and Alexandria often are not covered for many hours.
The extra wear and tear on the vehicles and increased fuel consumption also means significant costs to the taxpayer.
The city of Cornwall has looked after itself it has two quick response units cars to send with paramedics to stabilize patients until a ambulance arrives to transport to the hospital but there maybe one day a needless death will occur due to lack of timely transport to a full medical unit.
Also Cornwall has full time firefighters that also can be task to respond to assist were in the counties they have a volunteer units
In conclusion this needs to be a very serious election issue!
Now is the time as a citizen to raise your concerns at all candidate debates at the door and in the newspapers that if elected your representatives will not stop till this serious risk to everyone’s health is corrected.
The time is now not at an inquest into your death. I am only one voice I need to be more.
In all fairness to Bryan McGillis Warden of SD&G counties he has been working to see what could be done to correct this but I believe he needs the full support of all politicians from the counties to correct this problem and we need to see positive results very soon .
Bill Fry Former manager Electrodiagnostic Dept HDH Cornwall
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