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Fire Chief Downplays Union’s Concern of Ambulance Shortage

October 19, 2010 1:52 PM | News

A firefighter and paramedic wheel an injured cyclist on stretcher to an ambulance on St. Mary Avenue September 6, 2010. (WPGCAMERAMAN / CHRISD.CA)

The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service is firing back at allegations there is an ambulance shortage in the city.

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Chief Jim Brennan highlighted a 2009 comparison with eight major Canadian cities, which found Winnipeg to have the fastest EMS response times.

Brennan also said in the last three years, the WFPS has added three additional ambulances to the road, and a Major Incident Response Vehicle (MIRV) staffed with three paramedics 24 hours a day.

Investment in Winnipeg’s EMS system has increased by 52% since 2007, according to Brennan, who also says the number of licensed paramedics in the department has doubled.

Improvements have also been made to triple the number of Advanced Care paramedics, making it possible to staff 24 medical supervisors on every shift.

In response to ambulance wait times and availability criticism, the WFPS says the average wait time to off-load a patient in hospital is 55 minutes, citing the number of calls per ambulance is five within a 12 hour period.

To reduce wait times even further, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has hired more trained personnel to take over care of patients who arrive by ambulance.

“We can confirm the allegations are not substantiated, and that responders arrived within acceptable timeframes,” Brennan said.

Meanwhile, a poll released Monday by the Paramedics of Winnipeg, MGEU Local 911 showed public support was on their side to add even more ambulances to city streets. In September, the union launched a campaign to lobby for more ambulances, saying patient safety is at risk.