According to Winnipeg’s fire-paramedic chief, it takes six minutes longer than nine minutes for an ambulance to respond to emergency calls involving life-threatening situations because both employees are short-staffed and there are insufficient ambulances.
Rather than sending firefighter paramedics within the nine-minute target, Schmidt said they can dispatch a first responder, with a firefighter paramedic on average in 8 minutes and 47 seconds on the scene in Winnipeg.
According to him, ambulances, which can transport patients to hospitals, are taking longer to respond as the response time grows. He added that paramedics are scarce, and there is also a lack of vehicles.
“When we have situations where we go into a weekend where we have one or zero physical ambulances available as spares to go out into service, that’s very concerning,” he said.
Schmidt’s comments follow a report from the police and fire-paramedic officials that a program is working to reduce ambulance transports of mental health crisis patients. It was revealed to the committee that over 2,700 calls were diverted from hospitals in the first nine months of the one-year pilot program. Even though it’s promising, Schmidt thinks it does not address the lack of paramedics and ambulances.
Including 17 ambulances on the street on a 24-hour basis, the fire-paramedic service operates 28 ambulances. It also operates 4 community paramedicine units.
According to committee chair Sherri Rollins (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry), the city needs 11 additional ambulances.