The President of Local 4848 representing Paramedics and Dispatchers is fuming over what he calls the smoke and mirrors of the provincial Rapid Response Unit program.
Gregory McConaghy says with a severe paramedic shortage already, this program is nothing more than a poorly thought out public relations stunt.
“They’re gonna take, I’m going to say bilingual medics, out of ambulances, and put them in these rapid response vehicles, and end up shutting ambulances down, that’s not going to get patients to the hospital where they need to be,” states McConaghy.
He adds there is also a safety issue, since currently, paramedics in ambulances work in pairs, but the rapid response units would be only one paramedic.
“When we’re going on calls, and we’re going into people’s houses, or wherever we’re going, we always have our partner to watch our back,” says McConaghy. “We always have our partner to bounce things off to make sure we’re making the right clinical, medical decisions, and to make that on your own is a big, big responsibility [and] something I wouldn’t want.”
McConaghy adds with the rapid response units, there is an additional concern about when an ambulance will actually arrive once the rapid response paramedic is on scene.
“They tell the patient okay well we’ve got an ambulance coming in 20 minutes, or half an hour, and that ambulance could get diverted to a higher priority call,” says McConaghy. “So you’re sitting there with a patient, and upset family waiting for an ambulance, and you have to tell them oh that ambulance isn’t coming, they had to go to a different call so we’ve got to wait another 30 minutes or an hour.”
McConaghy says instead of adding new programs, the government should be focused on addressing the severe existing shortage of paramedics.