| Sep 18, 2008

Sept 18/08 - Denbigh Ambulance Review

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Feature Article - September 18, 2008 Ambulance Review in DenbighBy Angela Bright

As expected, nearly one hundred people were in attendance on Tuesday night at the Denbigh Hall, and they were all eager to hear about the Ambulance Service and Organizational Review.

Tom Bedford, Manager of Ambulance Services for the County of Lennox and Addingon, was on hand. He introduced Marvin Rubinstein of IBI Group, which has been hired to perform Lennox and Addington's County- wide review.

Mr. Rubinstein began by laying out the scope of the review, which includes four main items; to review organizational structures, appropriate geographic location of service, future viability, and cost. Charts and graphs were used to display wages/honorariums, call volumes, cross border calls, and how the numbers in each of these aspects differ vastly from the north end of the County to the south end.

For example, of the calls Denbigh receives, 59 percent are cross border calls, whereas only 17 percent of the calls in Napanee are cross border calls.

This statistic was exemplified by looking around the room, as a decent number of people at the meeting hailed from neighbouring counties, including Councilor Perry from North Frontenac and Councilor Lehnhardt of Greater Madawaska. When a Denbigh ambulance leaves for a call in a neighbouring county, there is no vehicle left at the local base.

However, when a Napanee ambulance is out on call, the Northbrook amblance shifts to Tamworth area, and the Denbigh amulance goes to Northbrook. Residents are very concerned about the time the local ambulance is absent from the local service area and welcomed the ability, as someone stated, to "quantify our anger and frustration" so as to include it in the review. One attendee raised the concern that many people often choose to drive themselves or their relatives or neighbours to the hospital rather than calling for an ambulance, thus lowering the call volume numbers for the Denbigh base.

Many points and questions came up during the discussion/suggestion period. Mr. Bedford was asked to explain why the beds have been removed from the local base, to which he replied that the Denbigh base is a "working base", because of the 12 hour shifts. Mr. Bedford also explained that Denbigh ambulances need to go all the way to the Northbrook when they are on standby instead of halfway, He said it was due to liability and that ambulances must stay on County property.

Near the end of the meeting the question was posed to Mr. Rubinstein, ""What do we need to do right now?"

He answered simply, "By doing what you are doing; staying on top of things."

Reeve Hogg added that each one should be in touch with their MPP to advise them of the issue as well. Mr. Bedford also made a few copies of the report "Ambulance Funding Issues" available. The report has been presented to the Honourable David Caplan, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care in August, in the hope that he will address the financial challenges that the County and residents face.

Within the week, this document should be posted on the County's web site, www.lennox-addington.on.ca.

In approximately 3 weeks time, the consultant's final report should be prepared and it will then be presented to County Council in October.

All through the meeting, poster sized displays stared back from the front wall with newspaper clippings and articles from years passed about the ambulance service, and how from its inception, has so greatly served the surrounding area. Ruby Malcolm organized and put together the articles for an ambulance reunion held two years ago.

It is amazing to see how far the service has come and will be even more interesting to see where we are headed.

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