CSDG ambulance changes to improve critical response

CORNWALL – A planned April 10 change to 911 dispatching protocols should help improve critical land ambulance response in the region.

The new Medical Priority Dispatch System will categorize calls to 911 based on one of five colours. Purple, which is for immediate life-threatening conditions; and Red, for potentially life-threatening conditions are the highest priority. For those calls, the closest land ambulance regardless of jurisdiction will respond.

Less time-sensitive calls will prioritized based on the availability of a land ambulance from within the service area. This includes: Orange, for urgent and potentially serious, but not life threatening calls; Yellow for not urgent or serious calls where there is no likely threat to life; and Green where the call is not urgent, or serious and the call can be deferred without being detrimental to the patient.

Cornwall SDG Paramedic Chief Bill Lister said the changes allows for a better use of resources.

“This ensures that the critical cases, identified as purple or red, receive immediate attention, irrespective of jurisdiction,” he said.

The move follows issues in the past three years where there has been no ambulances available in the region and there is a “Code Black” situation.

“The new system should allow dispatchers to manage calls so there are fewer instances where there are no ambulances available, or the ambulance assigned is travelling significant distances,” said CSDG and City of Cornwall spokesperson Chris Day

“By sending the right resources to the right place at the right time, every time, paramedic services will be less reliant on their neighbours to do calls outside their jurisdiction,” he said adding that the Ambulance Act has an expectation of universality still.

“Once MPDS is implemented, the definition of universality will only apply to calls assigned to a Purple or Red priority,” Day said.

For rural areas in SDG Counties it is expected that wait times will decrease for critical calls.

“The focus of this change is to ensure an ambulance is available for the sickest patients, regardless of where they live. With available ambulances being devoted to the most critically ill patients, wait times for the most acute cases should go down,” he explained.

Dispatchers will ask more questions when a 911 call is made and be in regular contact with callers with a non-time sensitive category to monitor if there are changes in priority needed.

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