May 25th, 2017 by

EMS continues to focus on reevaluating system pressures

Hastings-Quinte Chief of Paramedic Services Doug Socha (File photo: Mary Thomas/Quinte News)

Hastings-Quinte Paramedic Services continues to reevaluate system pressures, fleet and staffing options to offset the 8.4 percent increase in the 2016 service call volume.

On Thursday, Doug Socha, Chief of Hastings-Quinte Paramedic Services provided Prince Edward County’s committee of the whole with a series of 2016 highlights from Department of Emergency Services while outlining priorities for 2017.

The department continues to deliver the highest medical standards and 2016 was no different,” said Socha.

With a total call volume of 32,292, an increase of 6.4 percent from 2015 Socha said paramedics continue to show professionalism and patient care.  Emergency calls totaled 21,985, which was up 8.4 percent.  Belleville had 13,590, Quinte West 6,656, Picton 3,412, Tweed 1,496, Madoc 3,006 and Bancroft 4,132.

He said the majority of the calls for service are for those between the ages of 60-90.

In re-evaluating system pressures, Socha said they will specifically review Central Hastings area response times and review paramedic base locations; implementation of health and wellness strategies; physical demands; mental health and ongoing research initiatives around technology alternate delivery models to offset increased pressures.

“The department continues to expand the number of Advance Care Paramedics and is closing in on our target of having one ACP in each ambulance,” Socha explained.  “Currently we are at a 90 percent ACP coverage.”

Reflecting on 2016, Socha pointed to the introduction of the modified field trauma triage guidelines, replacement of four ambulances, two emergency vehicles, logistics van, the successful transition into the new Picton base and the implementation of the Difficult Access Response Team.

“All of this while travelling over 1.5 million kilometres,” stated Socha.  “Even with the large geography that we must cover, I am pleased to report that all response time performance targets as a service were met.”

He also praised 2016 as a year that saw continued investment in research.  The Community Paramedic Study evaluating the economic value of the program was completed and Socha said they continue to see the benefit in proactive evidence-based medical care.  He said remote patient monitoring and other strategies are helping older adults stay in their home safely and are helping to decrease the pressures on the global healthcare system.

“As Hastings County develops a health and wellness program the department is aligning with this initiative and in 2016 trained 21 in psychological first aid,” Socha said.  “This is to help support the development of a peer support team for paramedics.

He said Hastings County has also increased its level of emergency preparedness with a number of improvements in 2016 including the completion of the newly renovated emergency operations centre.

This room is now fully equipped with digital technology, backup power and staff were trained in the incident management system Socha said.

“In addition, a more detailed review of the hazard identification risk management was completed in between responding to large scale emergencies such as gas leaks, fire and drought planning,” he explained.

Socha also called 2016 a significant year of transition for a number of staff.  Socha returned last summer after being seconded to the federal government.  Socha congratulated Acting Chief John O’Donnell on his retirement after 40 years of service.