Grey County administration building
Sun Times files
Grey County Paramedic Services missed their response time targets for Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) 2 and Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) call types in 2018, but met targets in four other categories – CTAS 1, 3, 4, and 5.It was the second year in a row that the county was under the target for SCA and the third year in a row for CTAS 2 call types.SCA and CTAS 1 are the most high profile life threatening calls with the severity of the patient’s condition decreasing the higher the scale goes, up to CTAS 5.Kevin McNab, director of paramedic services, explained in a report to council on Thursday that the county has challenges in meeting the targets due to their large geographic area as well as an increase in call volumes, but they are committed to continually improve their performance.In the SCA category, the county has a response time target of six minutes or less. The 2018 target was to meet that time 40 per cent of the time, while it was actually met 38.24 per cent of the time, with the five-year average at 44.03 per cent. Unlike the other categories, where it is strictly paramedic response times, the SCA category includes the time it takes a defibrillator to arrive, such as those now fixed at many arenas or carried by fire departments.In the CTAS 2 category, paramedics met the time target of 15 minutes or less 89.39 per cent of the time, just off the 90 per cent target and just under the five-year average of 89.68 per cent.The targets that were met included: CTAS 1, with a time target of eight minutes or less and a 60 per cent target, was met 61.21 per cent of the time; CTAS 3, with a time target of 20 minutes or less and a 90 per cent target, was met 96.87 per cent of the time; CTAS 4, with a time target of 20 minutes or less and a 90 per cent target, was met 96.90 per cent of the time; and CTAS 5, with a time target of 20 minutes or less and a 90 per cent target, was met 97.16 per cent of the time.McNab outlined some of the challenges the service faces, including a large rural area that has the Niagara Escarpment cutting through it, as well as increasing call volumes.In 2018, total patient call volume increased 7.35 per cent. In 2018, the call volume totalled 11,743 calls, of which 11,369 were emergency calls. In 2012, the year the response time targets were developed, the call volume totalled 10,934, but emergency call totals were much lower at 8,208.McNab said in his report that in order to meet targets as call volumes increase it will require additional resources, and changes in targets or system service delivery. The county sets the targets and is required to report them to the province by March 31 each year.In his report, McNab also outlined the province’s investment in a new medical dispatch system, which will better prioritize calls based on need and redirect low acuity patients to locations other than emergency departments in instances where it would be safe to do so.A county program helping to reduce response times is the community paramedic program, which will respond to an emergency call if it is the closest vehicle to that emergency in the capacity of a primary care paramedic until an ambulance arrives. The service, working out of the Chatsworth base, is currently staffed five days a week on a 12-hour shift and the county plans to continue to advocate for funding to expand coverage to seven days a week, McNab’s report said.He said the new Chatsworth ambulance base will help reduce response times in the Township of Chatsworth, where they more consistently miss their target rates..Another area where response times are higher is a portion of Grey Highlands, and McNab said it should be considered for enhancements when the next system improvements occur.Later in Thursday’s meeting, Grey Highlands Mayor Paul McQueen put forth a notice of motion for the next council meeting that a meeting be held to discus ways in which response times can be enhanced in Grey Highlands.“Nothing against the great job our paramedic service providers are doing, but there is an area around Feversham in that southeast corner of Grey Highlands,” said McQueen.“My whole point is to be able to sit down and talk to see if there are ways to improve that service.”McQueen anticipates more need for emergency services in the area in the future, especially as more people make their way through from the larger cities to the south.He said many motorists heading back to the city from The Blue Mountains became stranded in Singhampton during the blizzard on Feb. 24-25, where residents served them hot meals at the community centre there.“There are a lot of people moving back and forth in that corridor,” said McQueen.