| Jan 22, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - January 22, 2009 Community ambulance committee responds to L&A ambulance review

by Jeff Green

The Community Ambulance Committee of Denbigh has released a detailed position paper in response to the Lennox and Addington (L&A) ambulance review that was completed in September of 2008.

The paper concludes “that the Denbigh Ambulance Base is in a critical geographic location and that it cannot be moved without severely impacting the health of the people that it currently serves.”

Almost a year ago, in light of the announcement of an organizational review of ambulance service in Lennox and Addington County, a community ambulance committee was formed to deal specifically with concerns about the northern service area in the County, specifically the Denbigh ambulance base.

Paul Isaacs, the chair of the committee, told the News last week that the ambulance committee was “quietly requested to stay on the sidelines until the service review was out. We felt we had to put something on paper after that.”

The service review, which was conducted by the IBI group, discussed the high cost of the maintaining the Denbigh and Northbrook bases in relation to call volumes. It also contained significant detail about the number of calls to both stations that come from outside of the borders of L&A (into Frontenac, Renfrew, and Hastings Counties)

The report outlined four options regarding service to the north end of the County. Of these the most expensive option would be to maintain the bases at Northbrook and Denbigh. Others include repositioning both bases, cutting back service in the Denbigh base, or closing both bases and opening one somewhere in between the other two.

In order to maintain the Denbigh base at its current location, with 24 hours of service, the IBI group report implies that a cost-sharing agreement with neighbouring municipalities, “splitting the cost of the two northern bases in proportion to the volume of calls these bases attend within their respective jurisdictions”, would be necessary.

In their response, the Community Ambulance Committee decided not to enter into the debate about how much neighbouring municipalities are willing to pay for cross borders services in rural and remote areas. Instead, it argues that the province needs to step in.

It says, “The provincial government made a serious error in ‘downloading’ land ambulance service to upper-tier municipalities. Ambulance service is a time-critical service that had no regard for jurisdictional boundaries.”

Among the 22 points in the summary supporting the conclusion that the ambulance service should be preserved as is at Denbigh, the ambulance committee made the point that, with the exception of a twice weekly clinic conducted by Doctor Tobia from Northbrook, there are no other medical services available for Denbigh residents, and that very few County services, save ambulance service, have an impact in the northern end of the County. It also says, “The geography of the County dictates that adequate ambulance service for the County can not be provided without an ambulance base in Denbigh.”

It suggested that, given the lack of other medical services in Denbigh, an alternate use of ambulance personnel may be considered. “Denbigh would be better served if the ambulance service provided non-emergency medical services in addition to ambulance emergency service,” it says.

The position paper has been submitted to L&A County, and Addington Highlands Township.

“We will see what response we will get,” said Paul Isaac, “we felt that we had an obligation to put out our position so that whenever things do happen we will have made our case in a strong and logical manner.” 

Support local
independant journalism by becoming a patron of the Frontenac News.