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March 19, 2008
Media Advisory - Toronto EMS paramedics provide excellent pre-hospital emergency care
Media reported today that according to the CUPE 416 Ambulance Unit Chair, paramedics are not able to respond to some 911 calls and that the available ambulance count drops as low as zero on a daily basis. The issue of paramedics not getting a lunch break was also raised, as was the claim that Toronto EMS spends too much money on “toys.”

Here are the facts:

• Toronto EMS responds to all emergency 911 calls according to medical priority, and the public should have confidence that EMS will be there in times of medical emergency. EMS does not refuse emergency care to anyone, even when it is extremely busy.

• EMS has a dynamic system and the resources available are constantly shifting according to demand. When the count is low, EMS relies on emergency response units (SUVs staffed by a single paramedic) and paramedic supervisors to provide fast emergency medical care until an ambulance arrives.

• Toronto EMS paramedics are stretched as a result of off-load delay. Up to 19 ambulances and 38 paramedics are tied up at hospitals each hour every day. Our priority is to get those paramedics out of the hospital and back into the community, which will relieve pressure on the system.

• Sometimes paramedics get their meal break late or not at all, due to offload delay and high call volumes. EMS has a negotiated agreement from 2007 that governs these cases.

• EMS does not spend money on toys. It does spend money to make sure it has the high-quality ambulances and medical equipment necessary to give the people of Toronto life-saving pre-hospital paramedic care.

• EMS Chief Bruce Farr is working very closely with Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman and our healthcare partners on solving the offload delay problem.

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years, Toronto has won more than 70 awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto's government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contact:
Lyla Miller, Toronto EMS, 416-392-2255,



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