THUNDER BAY – Be safe! That message has a lot more meaning this holiday season for Thunder Bay residents. Superior EMS Union head Rob Moquin is sharing the frustration that local paramedics are facing after an especially hectic weekend. Ambulance wait times grew over the past weekend to up to an hour in length, leaving patients and paramedics equally stressed.
There were several times where Superior EMS was in what Moquin states are a “Code Black“. That means that all available ambulances are in use and that there are no additional resources to deal with any added calls. Wait times for an ambulance over the weekend grew up to one hour in length.
The end results are impacting both patient care, and paramedics as well.
“As often is the case. Many of us struggle with the physical and mental stuff post call. It’s the downtime, at home because there is no downtime in EMS. when we start feeling the physical and mental injuries,” states Moquin.
The stress levels for Superior EMS Paramedics is climbing. “We as paramedics find ourselves responding to a lot of police-type calls. Simply because the police are just as busy. I am our unit chair for our union and a working paramedic.” adds Moquin. “We are seriously exploring stab/bulletproof vests for paramedics because of the environment we work in”.
There is a new paramedic unit on order which should help, but that unit is likely to serve only as a stop-gap as demand continues to grow.
Superior EMS has a large area to cover. When people call 911 it is when they need help. Making shorter wait times possible should be a priority.
Medically, there is what the experts call a Golden Hour. A person who receives advanced life support for serious injuries in that first hour has a far greater survival rate. If that advanced life support is delayed, that person’s chances drop significantly. Having our frontline workers in a “Code Black” status with no available help greatly extends those response times, and greatly endangers people’s lives.
Finding real solutions should be a major priority in our city.