Fire Department head, ambulance chief, seeking ways to curtail fire department calls to less urgent medical calls

Written by  Wednesday, 12 September 2018 14:45
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Through an oversite, the tiered response agreement that determines which resources are deployed for emergency medical calls has run out, and in a report to Head of Emergency Services/fire Chief Greg Robinson recommended that Central Frontenac renew the agreement with no changes to keep things rolling along. At a meeting of Central Frontenac Council this week (Tuesday, September 11) Robinson presented a report that also called for the township to consider making changes to one of the protocols in the agreement.

Central Frontenac volunteers answered 193 medical calls in 2016, “and that number has gone up since then” Robinson said. According to data collected by members of the Frontenac Paramedic Services, 67% of the time Central Frontenac fire fighters do not provide any medical services during the call. Currently, any time the dispatch service determines that an ambulance is more than 15 minutes away from a call, the fire service is called out.

“Most of the time in Central Frontenac, the ambulance is more than 15 minutes away,” said Mayor Frances Smith.

Robinson is recommending, in consultation with Chief Charbonneau, that for lower priority calls, those that are priority 4 (non-life threatening) firefighters only be called in if the ambulance is more than 25 minutes away.

“Hopefully this will have an effect,” Robinson said.

According to statistics provided by Robinson, among Frontenac County fire services, Central Frontenac is more encumbered by medical calls than either North or South Frontenac.

“62% of our total emergency responses are medical; compared to 17% for Kingston Fire & Rescue, 30% for South Frontenac Fire & Rescue and 40% for North Frontenac. It is clear that the percentage of medical calls we have is out of proportion to the other Fire Departments in the County,” he said.

He indicated that he believes Central Frontenac is being taken advantage of, so that the ambulance that is assigned to the Parham based can be re-deployed to the south in order to supplement the busy Kingston service.

“The Parham ambulance is not often available because it gets called into Kingston a lot. It appears that it’s not an operational requirement to keep an ambulance at Parham. This may be due to the fact that Kingston Central Ambulance Communications Centre knows CFFR will respond to any medical call. We often get dispatched to calls that do not meet the response criteria. These calls are for very minor medical conditions but the Kingston Central Ambulance Communications Centre dispatches CFFR anyway when an ambulance will be delayed,” he said in his report.

Members of Council want to hear more detail before making the changes that Robinson is suggesting.

“This sounds like significant change,” said Councillor Philip Smith, “it certainly requires more discussion.”

“Just because the ambulance service says no medical service was provided does not mean the people who made the call did not gain comfort from the arrival of someone within a reasonable amount of time, even if the ambulance does not arrive for 45 minutes to an hour,” said Councillor Brent Cameron.

“Medical services were not what we were thinking about when the volunteer fire departments were being set up in the 1970’s,” said Councillor John Purdon

“We are being dispatched to calls where we should not be dispatched,” concluded Greg Robinson. “There are provincial protocols for dispatch but there is leeway, and in my view calls come to Central Frontenac that would not go to other fire services. And this affects our fire budget” Robinson

When asked afterwards why he thinks Central Frontenac is being singled out for calls, Robinson deferred, but he did confirm that he feels that calls to other locations are treated differently by the dipathc centre in Kingston than calls to Central Frontenac

Construction report
Constructions starts were slow in August in Central Frontenac, putting a bit of a damper in what is still shaping up to be a the best year in the last three, and one of the best in Central Frontenac’s 20 year history.

Permits for only $120,000 in construction were sold in August, down from almost $850,000 in each of previous two years. But overall in 2018, the township is just shy of $7.5 million, up a million from this time in 2017 and two million over the January to August total in 2016. Permits for 22 new permanent and seasonal residents have been sold this year, up from 21 at this point in 2017, and 14 in 2016.

The building department budget is also healthier than in recent, with permit sales over $105,000 already, up from $91,000 in 2017 and $83,500 in 2016. Interim Chief Building Official Allan Revill said that he expects the numbers to keep rolling along over the next month or two as the department continues to be fielding inquiries about possible projects as the summer fades into autumn.

Bordenwood Road
Reg Peterson appeared as a delegate to Council to talk about what he considers inadequate maintenance on the road he lives on, Bordenwood in Kennebec ward. Mayor Smith encouraged him to call the Public works line during business hours when the road is in bad repair, or his local councillors.

Fees waived for youth program
Martha Johnson, the youth co-ordinator from Rural Frontenac Community Services (RFCS) appeared before Council as a delegate,

A group of teenagers from Arden approached the RFCS Youth department of over the summer with concerns over feeling pulled into “unsafe activities” due to a lack of stimulation available in the local community. RFCS responded by holding a brainstorming session in early August and two other meetings, one in late August and one in early September. AS a result, they are setting up a biweekly drop-in as a pilot project this fall. RFCS is providing the staffing from its youth and family services departments, a private donor has come forward to pay for food, and in partnership with the Kennebec Recreation Committee, RFCS was seeking a waiving of $210 in hall rental fees for 7 Wednesdays between now and Christmastime.

Council was happy to oblige.

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