Greater Sudbury needs more paramedics to treat aging population, says deputy chief
Archibald told Sudbury city council Tuesday that the city's EMS operations will eventually need more staff to meet an increase in emergency calls and cover Greater Sudbury's vast geographic area.
In the past five years, calls to emergency services in Sudbury increased by 38 per cent.
While Sudbury's population has stagnated in the past five years, it has also aged, and is expected to continue aging for at least the next 10 years, he said.
Counting supervisors and training officers, there are around 140 certified paramedics in Greater Sudbury.
The emergency services have a fleet of 22 ambulances and 10 paramedic response vehicles.
The city's paramedics operate out of 10 stations scattered throughout Sudbury, where they are strategically placed to reach patients as quickly as possible.
Last year, Archibald said, Sudbury paramedics responded to 95 per cent of emergencies within their target times.
But patients suffering from a major cardiac arrest – where the target response time is six minutes – have proven more difficult to reach in the recommended time.
The city set a target of reaching those patients within six minutes 70 per cent of the time, but was only able to reach 67 per cent. In the city core, paramedics met the target time 75 per cent of the time, but the large distances in the outskirts have made it more difficult to achieve the target.
In 2013, Greater Sudbury emergency services received 116 calls for major cardiac arrests. Those calls represented less than one per cent of all serious Code 4 calls – when ambulances flash their lights and have their sirens blaring.
To help improve response times, Sudbury's EMS operations have partnered with the Heart and Stroke Foundation to install public defibrillators across the city.
If an ordinary citizen responds to a heart attack victim with a defibrillator within six minutes – that counts toward the city's response target.
There are now more than 130 public access defibrillators in Sudbury, installed at arenas, schools, pools and community centres.
Sudbury EMS operations have trained more than 600 people on how to use the defibrillators and perform CPR.
Archibald said once the funding is secured, they plan to add 15 more public access defibrillators to the system.
“We've got a fantastic service,” Archibald said. “The men and women who are serving this community as front line paramedics are doing an outstanding job.”