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January 14, 2003
Toronto Paramedics helping vulnerable people get out of the cold
Emergency Medical Services - Toronto Emergency Medical Services paramedics are
hitting the streets of downtown Toronto to help homeless people find shelter
from the cold.

Toronto EMS' Community Medicine Program is once again partnering with Toronto
Community and Neighbourhood Services and other agencies to provide assistance
during Extreme Cold Weather Alerts in the City of Toronto.

"Toronto EMS is augmenting our regular paramedic ambulance service by using
this preventive approach to community medicine," said Tom Murray of the
Community Medicine Program. "Our goal is to reduce injury and death associated
with extremes in temperature and exposure to this harsh environment among 'at
risk' people, in this case, the homeless and marginally housed."

An Extreme Cold Weather alert goes into effect when Environment Canada:
· predicts a temperature of -15 degrees Celsius or lower, without wind chill
· issues a wind chill warning for outdoor activity for people in the Toronto
· predicts extreme weather conditions such as a blizzard or ice storm.

When an alert is called, Toronto EMS sends out a team of specially-trained
paramedics to provide assessment, treatment and transportation to shelters or
hospitals as required.

Toronto EMS Cold Alert Response Team paramedics work closely with the STREET
Helpline 416-392-3777, Toronto CNS, Toronto Public Health, the Out of the Cold
Program, the Red Cross and other front line workers. The paramedic crews are
mobile in the downtown core area and reach out to as many at risk people as

"Paramedics recognize the vulnerability of people to injury and death secondary
to environmental exposure, and preventing cold-related illness is part of
Toronto EMS' effort to provide the best possible care and support to all
residents of Toronto," added Murray.

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