| Apr 24, 2019

Gale Chevalier will take over as Chief of Frontenac Paramedics on July 1st.

She shouldn’t have any difficulty fitting in, however, since she will be heading a service where she has spent her entire 25-year career as a paramedic.

She began working as a Primary Care Paramedic at Hotel Dieu Hospital Regional EMS in Kingston in 1994 and progressed to Advanced Care Paramedic in 1997. In 2004, after the Frontenac Paramedic Services took over the Hotel Dieu operation, she became the Operations Supervisor with the new service, and advanced to Supervisor of Quality Assurance and Training in 2009. She became the Deputy Chief of Performance Standards since November 2010 and Deputy Chief of Operations in April last year.

She also serves as the Acting Chief while Chief Paul Charbonneau was off on a leave of absence in late 2018 and early 2019. In February, Charbonneau returned from leave and announced his intention to retire, and the job was posted widely.

According to a Frontenac county media release, Chevalier “was the unanimous selection of the recruitment panel in a highly competitive field of candidates.”

With his replacement named, Paul Charbonneau is set to retire on July 1.

“I’m very excited and honoured to become the next Chief at Frontenac Paramedics, and I’m looking forward to leading a great team of professionals, and an organisation where I’ve spent my entire career,” said Chevalier. “I want to make sure we remain an employer of choice and continue to be leaders in the industry.”

The announcement of her appointment came one day after the news came out that the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for Ontario intends the reduce the number of ambulance services in the province from 59 to just 10.

The potential impacts of the changes that the ministry is planning were not lost on her when she very briefly addressed Frontenac Council on Wednesday afternoon.

“It is an interesting time to take this on,” she said with a bit of wry smile when introduced to Council as the next chief, “but we will continue to provide the best service we can and we’ll see what changes come about.”

Out-going Chief Charbonneau reported to Council about what he had learned in the roughly 36 preceding hours since he found out about the Ministry’s unexpected plans.

“They said they will be consulting with the Paramedic Service providers, but it will be a quick turnaround for consultation, maybe a week or two, then we expect they will set up some sort of request for proposal process, similar to what they have done in other parts of the health care system,” he said.

“We have always been pro-active at Frontenac Paramedic Services, when it came to community Paramedicine or to addressing mental health issues among Paramedics, and we intend to be pro-active in this case.”

Charbonneau also said that when it was announced in the provincial budget that dispatch services were going to be rationalised into 10 dispatch centres it was widely applauded by Chiefs of Paramedic Services across the Province as a way to improve service.

“That was something the we had been asking for, but we never talked to them about cutting the number of providers. For our service, … It’s one of those cases where we need to decide if we want to drive the bus, be on the bus, or wait at a bus stop hoping to be picked up.”

Charbonneau said he will keep Council informed about decisions they may have to make “over the next 72 days and 2 hours before I retire, not that I’m counting the days.”

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