The Frontenac paramedics union is asking for resources to respond to the volume of calls

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GLENBURNIE — The union representing paramedics in Frontenac has launched a campaign calling for more investment in staff and equipment to respond to growing call volumes.

The paramedics’ union is asking Frontenac County to increase the number of paramedics and ambulances on the road.

“Our paramedics have gone to work every day, putting their all into it, but they are at their breaking point right now,” said Dave Doran, acting president of the Public Service Employees Union Local 462. of Ontario, which represents approximately 148 full-time and part-time paramedics.

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According to the county, paramedics respond to nearly 23,000 calls a year, more than 85% of which are in the city of Kingston.

“The volume of calls over the past few years has steadily increased year over year, and Frontenac County has failed to meet this demand by ensuring that additional ambulances and staff extra are added,” Doran said.

“Paramedics are stressed, they’re burnt out, there’s a lot of mental health issues that are starting to happen just from the increased call volume and no downtime between calls” , added Doran. “You drop off a patient at the hospital and immediately return to another call.”

Doran said increasing call volumes, coupled with COVID-19 procedures, an aging population and the increasing complexity of patient conditions, have made it increasingly difficult to meet response time goals. .

With paramedics assigned to COVID-19 vaccination and testing efforts, as well as growing community paramedic services, Doran said there were not enough paramedics available for the road.

“We don’t have enough personnel right now to equip the vehicles we have,” he said, adding that tTo maintain service levels, ambulances are often understaffed with one paramedic rather than two.

Kelly Pender, Frontenac County’s administrative manager, said the county has hired more staff to meet growing demand for the service.

“Frontenac County takes the health and well-being of all of our employees seriously, including frontline paramedics and long-term care staff,” Pender said in a statement. “The pandemic has had a significant impact on all frontline healthcare workers in the province.

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“When it comes to Frontenac paramedics, the county has been active on two fronts: first in leading and adopting the province’s community paramedic program, and second in approving ongoing funding to implement staffing levels. increased.

Among the additions were a new 12 hour shift in the west Kingston and new staff dedicated to the community paramedicine program, which last year benefited from a $6.2 million commitment from the provincial government.

“As part of the 2022 county budget, the council approved a continued budget increase to further increase the number of paramedics in the community, as well as the construction of new paramedic stations to improve coverage in areas with high call volume and provide comfortable accommodations for staff,” said Pender.

The county just completed its last round of hiring, and those new paramedics are expected to be on duty next month, Pender said.