ESPANOLA – The Gore Bay ambulance service will be part of a pilot project this year, which will include increased onsite coverage for 14 weeks this summer and early fall.
“Staff have reviewed the budget this year and due to funding pressures for the 2021 calendar year, the pilots have been reduced to 14 weeks for all three areas (Gore Bay, Chapleau and LaCloche/Manitoulin),” said Paul Myre, chief of paramedic services for Manitoulin-Sudbury District Services Board (DSB) at a meeting last week.
Last October the board approved the 2021 deployment plan’s pilot program issue report in principle and the board directed the finance committee to consider the deployment plan pilot during the 2021 budget deliberation. The proposed pilot program would have seen trial staffing enhancements for the Gore Bay and Chapleau paramedic services stations where staffing would have been increased to include 24/7 onsite coverage for a period of 16 weeks. The pilot also included additional staffing enhancements for the LaCloche and Manitoulin Island area by way of an extra transporting ambulance from 9 am to 9 pm for the seasonally busier period, between mid-May and mid-September, seven days a week. The upstaff resource would also operate for a period of 18 weeks in the LaCloche and Manitoulin areas.
Mr. Myre explained, however, “during 2021 budget deliberations, staff were required to revisit the original modelling for the proposed pilot due to forecasted budget pressures and the unknowns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. The pilots have been reduced to 14 weeks for all three areas. “Additionally, the pilots will be staggered during identified peak call volume periods as opposed to a defined mid-May to mid-September timeframe. This staggering in the schedule will permit for a strategic deployment based on call activity data and is vital to ensure the efficacy and the success of the pilot. For Gore Bay and LaCloche-Manitoulin, the 14 weeks will include seven days a week with two staff, 12 hours a day, for weekly hours of 168 and total hours of 2,352.”
Mr. Myre added, “preparations and modelling activities continue to progress as we enter the 2021 calendar year. While the pilot continues to move forward in planning, staff are very cognizant of the current fiscal climate and the many unknowns that surround it. Staff are approaching the planning process in a very prudent manner and continue to assess the viability and practicality of deploying this pilot during an unprecedented period of uncertainty.”
The DSB approved the report and authorized staff to action the recommendations in the report.