The program may have damaged citizens’ confidence in the 9-1-1 emergency response system in Ontario, but Keith Kirkpatrick, Chief of the Kawartha Lakes Paramedic Service comments, “I am grateful for the opportunity to provide accurate information and to clarify some key points to underline that the public has every reason to have faith in the Ontario paramedic system.”
CTV’s Kevin Newman reported that calling 9-1-1 “does not guarantee” that Emergency Response Services (EMS) “can do all in their power” to save a patient. He said the first responders currently have different “restrictive levels of care” that they can provide according to their training category under Ontario regulations, and that citizens were playing “Russian Roulette” when they called 9-1-1.
Mr. Newman reported that Primary Care paramedics are limited in the drugs they can administer to patients and cannot perform intubations; Advanced Care paramedics can provide a wide variety of drugs and perform intubations, and Critical Care paramedics can essentially offer the same treatment as a doctor.
In response, Chief Kirkpatrick provided an excerpt from a joint statement issued by the Paramedic Chiefs of Canada and the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs:
“We want to reassure the public that they will receive the right level of response, and the right level of care, in the right place, when they call 9-1-1. In fact, calling an ambulance is the safest avenue for getting the best and most timely care in cases of life threatening injury or illness.”
Chief Kirkpatrick went on to say, “Kawartha Lakes paramedics currently meet or exceed Canadian standards for advanced care response. Over 75% of serious 9-1-1 calls in our area are responded to by Advanced Care paramedics. Primary Care paramedics always have the option to call for backup by Advanced Care paramedics. I also want to emphasize that Primary Care paramedics are an important component to the emergency health care response. All paramedics, regardless of level, save lives every day.”
By calling 9-1-1, you can be assured that you will be treated quickly and appropriately and transported to the most suitable health care facility. For example, if you are having a heart attack, paramedics have the ability to transport you directly to a specialized cardiac centre where you will receive the gold standard of care.
He closed by saying the story that aired on W-5, “has been an incredible opportunity to talk about the work that our paramedic professionals provide, and instilling confidence in the public that they can call 9-1-1 and depend on the robust paramedic services and the medical oversight provided by hospitals and health care centres.”
Paramedics respond to over 1.1 million 9-1-1 calls a year across Ontario. 99% of patients arrive alive at the hospital. Kawartha Paramedic Service responds to 17,000 calls per year.