| Mar 26, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - March 26, 2009 Ambulance review calls for new base in South FrontenacBy Jeff Green

A review of the rural ambulance service in Frontenac County by the IBI Consulting Group has recommended that a new base housing a 24-hour ambulance be built in a central location of South Frontenac Township.

The review also recommends that the ambulance now located at the township garage on Hwy. 509 between Ompah and Plevna in North Frontenac, which is a 12-hour a day ambulance service (7:30 am to 7:30 pm) either be moved to a location in the vicinity of Ardoch at the junction of Hwys. 506 and 509, or have a new garage built at its current location. Currently the ambulance is exposed to the elements throughout the 12-hour shift and must be kept running all day in the winter time so the equipment will not freeze.

Jim Beam, the deputy mayor of North Frontenac, favoured building the new garage, and said, “I can't see how service to the east end of the township can be maintained if the base is moved to Ardoch”.

The IBI report said that the 24-hour ambulance located at the Parham station in Central Frontenac should be maintained.

Currently, calls generated from South Frontenac, almost 1,000 per year, are answered either by ambulances based in the City of Kingston (57%) or Parham (32%). The IBI report estimated that once a base in South Frontenac is up and running, approximately 65% of those calls would be answered by the South Frontenac base. This would speed up response times throughout the county because the Parham and North Frontenac-based ambulances would not have to be redirected to cover South Frontenac nearly as often.

According to Marvin Rubinstein, the IBI consultant who presented the report, the North Frontenac ambulance is relocated to the south for standby approximately once a day to cover for the Parham ambulance when it is sent on a call. A new base in South Frontenac would decrease the necessity for relocations.

The projected cost of the new base in South Frontenac is $750,000 and the cost of running a 24-hour ambulance is pegged at about $1 million annually. The building/renovation costs in North Frontenac are estimated at $750,000.

In the review of service in the north end of the county, consideration was given to moving the station to Cloyne, so more patients in the most populous region in North Frontenac would be served by Frontenac ambulances rather than cross-border service from the Northbrook and Denbigh stations.

“While that would lead to more local calls in that region, it would not speed up response times, and it would make response times slower in other parts of North Frontenac,” Marvin Rubinstein said, when presenting the report to a meeting of Frontenac County Council last week.

Rubinstein, who completed an extensive review for L&A County last year, pointed out that these projections in the western part of North Frontenac are based on the assumption that the Northbrook and Denbigh services would remain as they are after the L&A report is implemented, which may or may not be the case.

The L&A report presented several options for the northern bases, presenting an analysis of the cost per call for the low-call-volume base at Denbigh of almost $1,500. Cross-border billing rates were set by the Eastern Ontario County Treasurers at $170 in 2006, so the L&A report says there should be a cost-sharing scheme worked out with Frontenac County in order to keep the 12-hour Denbigh and the 24-hour Flinton ambulances in place.

A staff report in L&A in response to the IBI report is being presented to their county council this month.

Acknowledging that the shape of Frontenac County’s northern service is tied into what L&A does with their Flinton and Denbigh bases, Frontenac County Manager of Emergency Services, Paul Charbonneau said, “This report is just the beginning of that process. We have a long way to go”.

Land ambulance service operations in Ontario are funded on a 50-50 basis by the municipalities and the province. Capital costs, such as new bases and ambulances, are funded entirely on the municipal level. 

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