LONG SAULT – The head of the Cornwall SDG Paramedic Service says there’s already been a noticeable drop in response times in South Stormont.
Myles Cassidy shared the figures Tuesday afternoon as officials cut a ribbon – styled as an electrocardiogram readout – with a pair of paramedic shears outside the Long Sault ambulance base.
“From 14.5 minutes to 9.5 minutes in South Stormont during the day. That’s an average over the area of South Stormont,” Cassidy told Cornwall Newswatch.
South Stormont Mayor Jim Bancroft concurred, as he recounted a situation that happened last week.
“An incident on the bike path (with) a serious injury where broken bones in several parts of their legs, where the response time was then just two or three minutes. That wouldn’t have happened eight months or nine months ago, so that’s why this (building) is here today,” Bancroft said.
Chief Cassidy said there’s a noticeable change also based on feedback. “The same people that called in 2011 aren’t necessarily the same people that called. But we have had, certainly from the paramedics themselves, that response times, if they’re not immediate, then they’re within that nine minute average.”
Cassidy said the building project was on time – even a little sooner than expected – and on budget.
The sod was turned in November 2015 to start building the ambulance base.
It was built by De Saulniers Construction of Cornwall as is designed to survive natural disasters, including earthquakes, and run through power outages.
South Stormont owns the building and the Cornwall SDG Paramedic Service, through the City of Cornwall, leases the building from the township, similar to the arrangement with four of the five other townships. The exception is South Dundas where the “legacy” building is leased from a private owner.
The base will have a single paramedic response unit (PRU) on a 12-hour shift but is built to handle a full-sized ambulance if required in the future.
The Long Sault and Lancaster ambulance bases cost about $500,000 a year to staff. The cost is shared 60-40 between the county and the city. However, the entire cost will be shared 49-51 between the Ontario Ministry of Health and the City of Cornwall (the city administers EMS for the region).
The Moulinette Road building has one bay for an ambulance, a living room with a couple of chairs and a television, a large-sized washroom and an office/computer room.
Cassidy said the service has changed quite a bit from when he started with the St. Lawrence Ambulance Service in 1989 – one of the ambulances was stationed in the embalming room of a local funeral home.
“The vehicle was parked beside caskets in the garage…we’ve come a long way,” he said.