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A Discussion With Peel Paramedics Union President Dave Wakely – Caledon Paramedics New Model

The answers below were provided by Peel Paramedics Union President Dave Wakely through email and a telephone conversation.

Has the union been consulted about the new model?

Throughout this process the union has been consulted and has continued to raise concerns about coverage gaps in Caledon.

What are the main concerns the union has going forward?

We think that plans should be made and funds be set aside to build a central book on station in Caledon. Our ability to make the new model work is based on current system demand; based on our estimation it will likely be unsustainable past 2022. That is why we support the construction of a central book on station in Caledon.

With your experience do you feel that there will be a moment or a time during the day that Caledon will not be as covered by the paramedics as the rest of the time with the new model?

610am. Even on slow days it will be challenging. It is important however, to know that the paramedics of the Region of Peel remain committed to providing coverage to Caledon. As a union we view caring for the community as part of our responsibility. In January we will be monitoring the ability of the new system to cover Caledon.

He also added, there may be extra money spent on up-staffing overtime ambulances, but no matter what we will ensure Caledon is covered.

Should the change have been done in stages to ensure it’s successful? 

No. January is a nice time to look closely as it is a busy month and if there is a problem identified, we have staff available to add paramedics to the system while the solution is worked out. Staff at that time are not in training and take the least amount of holiday.

Mr. Dave Wakely also stated that management and the union are working on a joint statement that will be provided to the residents. He will also be present at all the Public information meetings to answer questions and address concerns.

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PEEL PARAMEDICS UNION Local 277 Frequently Asked Questions

On January 15, 2019, Caledon’s Community Paramedics will no longer start and finish their shifts in Caledon. Instead, they will deploy to Caledon from 1600 Bovaird Dr. East in Brampton.

Why is this happening?

In 2006, Health Analytics was hired by the Region of Peel to conduct a review of existing facilities and cost, and to develop recommendations for improvements. Based on this review, on June 7, 2007 Chief Peter Dundas and the Regional Council brought forward a proposal for a 10-year facilities plan to the Emergency and Protective Services Committee. On June 21, 2007 Peel Regional Council as a whole endorsed a 10-year facilities plan based on shifting ambulance services from the traditional station-based model to a “divisional” reporting/satellite station model.

Click here to view the Health Analytics Report

Is this what Regional Council approved in 2007?

No. The June 21, 2007 Regional Council Resolution #207-833 specifically states:

“And further, that the current Station-Based Model in Caledon be maintained.”

This statement is completely in line with the recommendations from the Health Analytics report, which outlines in multiple areas why Caledon should remain in the traditional station-based model.

http://www.peelregion.ca/council/council_minutes/2000s/2007/rcmin20070621.htm#he

Chief Peter Dundas had stated that Regional Council has been continually updated and approves of this change?

“That decision happened in late 2008”

At this time, we are unable to locate any public records of council supportign this statement.

During 2008, all decisions regarding the 10-year facilities plan flowed through the Emergency and Protective Services Committee first, then onto Regional Council for final approval. The dates of the 2008 EPSC meetings’ key highlights, as well as follow on council minutes, are:

January 31-2008 Cancelled
May 15 2008 Update on 10-year plan (oral) No mention of Caledon

Click here >

http://www.peelregion.ca/council/council_minutes/2000s/2008/rcmin20080522.htm#etp

September 4 2008 – No discussion on 10 year plan or Caledon

Click here >

http://www.peelregion.ca/council/council_minutes/2000s/2008/rcmin20080918.htm

November – 24 2008

Two References to Caledon, one regarding co-locate options from Councillor Morrison and another from Councillor Mullin “Councillor Mullin requested staff to provide more detailed information regarding delays in ambulance service in Caledon.”

Click here >

http://www.peelregion.ca/council/council_minutes/2000s/2008/rcmin20081211.htm#he

We have all reviewed all minutes of the EPSC from 2007 through 2013. We were unable to locate any reference to Changes in Caledon in any minutes until the November 7, 2013 meeting where a report was presented: “Proposed changes to Peel paramedics Service 10 year facilities plan”

At this time, Caledon’s “stand alone” stations are suddenly referred to as satellite stations.

Click here >

But Chief Dundas states that we continue to work closely with our Union partners and paramedics!

OPSEU 277 members and paramedics sit on the Paramedic Services “Deployment” Committee and work with the Employer to minimize the risks to the public and paramedics within the parameters of decisions made by the Region. We do not, and have never, supported this change.

Will the Paramedics who currently work in Caledon be the ones moved north from Brampton?

NO. The paramedics currently working in Caledon will become part of the “divisional” pool and will be assigned a work location depending on their shift start time and system demands. Caledon’s community paramedics, some of whom have worked exclusively in the area for over 17 years, will become part of a rotating system. We can, however, assure the residents of Caledon that regardless of which crew is assigned for the shift, frontline paramedics will provide the same level of care as we always have.

What is a “Deployment Plan” and how is it related to response times?

“It’s a mathematical model that best predicts where and when 911 calls are most likely to occur. It factors in time of day, population/location, historical trends, geography and our Council-approved response time framework (mandated time targets to get to calls).”

On July 12, 2018 Peel Paramedic Service submitted an annual report to Peel Regional Council titled “Paramedic Service 2019 Response time Framework”. It outlines the response times for ALL of Peel Region and does not differentiate between Caledon/Brampton and Mississauga, and is based on the above noted statement by Chief Dundas.

Page 6 of the 2007 Health Analytics Report specifically addresses this practice:

“By choosing ambulance locations strictly in an effort to optimize response time interval statistics for the entire Region, these more rural areas would be left without consistent coverage”

Click here >

What are the different stations?

-A “stand alone” is a station paramedics report directly to at the start of their shift.
-A “division” is a large location where multiple shifts of paramedic crews report to at the start of their shift, and then disperse.
-A “satellite” station is a location paramedics move to after starting their shift at a “division”, similar to a community police station.

Are you just trying to keep the Caledon medics from having to drive further to work?

OPSEU 277 represents over 600 frontline paramedics and logistical staff, 16 of which have historically been permanently assigned to Caledon and Bolton. When this change occurs, some will drive further and some lesser distances. However, they will all remain employed.

Despite our size, the paramedic union executive is composed of unpaid frontline volunteer paramedics who are elected for a 2-year term. In addition to our mandate to serve the interests of the members as a whole, as active frontline paramedics we also have an obligation to “conduct and present oneself in such a manner so as to encourage and merit the respect of the public for members of the paramedic profession”. We entered the profession to help people in need; we do not play politics with peoples’ lives.

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Paramedic Myths – Response to Peel Region Post – From the Peel Paramedics Union Site:

You deserve the truth about your paramedic service.
We’re bringing you the truth behind 11 myths about upcoming administrative changes at Peel Paramedics.
Fast and easy. Need more details? Find them at the information page.

Myth 1. Paramedics are leaving Caledon.

Absolutely not. They will simply be reporting to work a station in Brampton, instead of Caledon. Paramedics will continue to cover Caledon. The same number of ambulances will be in Caledon as before. And that number will increase as the population grows.

OPSEU 277 This is a fact. Paramedics will no longer be based out of Caledon. Our Union will work with the paramedic service to ensure that paramedics are available to cover Caledon.

Myth 2. Lives will be put at risk.

Absolutely not. We save lives. We don’t – AND WON’T – risk them. Peel Paramedics deliver some of the best pre-hospital care in Canada and perhaps the world. And that isn’t ever going to change.

OPSEU 277 As frontline paramedics, our number one priority at all times is to conserve life, alleviate pain and suffering, and promote health.That is why we are reaching out to the community to talk about coverage levels. We are proud that our service leaders in pre-hospital care.

On June 25, 2015, Peel Paramedic Union President Dave Wakely presented a letter to Regional Council (minutes item 6.1) Item 2015-516 thanking them for their continued support, which has allowed us to become one of the frontline leaders in pre-hospital emergency care.
Click here >

Myth 3. Caledon is a bad place to have a heart attack.

Not true. Peel, including Caledon, is the best place in Canada to have a heart attack. Our save rates are significantly better than anywhere else.

OPSEU 277 Thanks to the dedication and commitment of our frontline members as well as the ongoing support of Peel Regional Council Peel Region, Caledon has one of the highest cardiac arrest survival rates in North America. Our STEMI bypass program (ST elevation Myocardial Infarction), in which paramedics identified the sign of an acute heart attack through the use of a 12 lead ECG., patch directly to the cardiac interventionalist at either Brampton Civic or Mississauga Trillium Hospital and transport directly to the operating room has some of the fastest “911 call to cardiac intervention” in the world.
https://www.mississauga.com/community-story/3255416-heart-patient-gets-life-saving-treatment-close-to-home/

Myth 4. The current system in Caledon is perfect.

It’s good, but it can be better with the service improvements that have already been successful in Brampton and Mississauga. Caledon residents deserve that.

OPSEU 277 Call volume in Caledon has grown 263% in the last ten years. The system is not perfect. That is why the Peel Paramedic Union is advocating for a plan that brings a divisional book on station to Caledon by 2022. Enhancements that account for this growth in call volume will ensure the residents of Caledon are covered effectively.

Myth 5. Ambulances will be responding from Brampton, not Caledon.

No. Minutes count. Ambulances will be sent to Caledon before the previous shift changes to provide seamless medical coverage for residents. Paramedics might report to work and pick up their ambulances in Brampton, but will respond to Caledon emergencies from Caledon.

OPSEU 277 That happens today, and sometimes, Brampton gets ambulances from Caledon. That is okay as a response to higher-than-forecasted volume. The plan to move ambulances out of Caledon will create a gap even when volumes are average.

Myth 6. Emergency response time will be slower starting in 2019.

No. Paramedics will be in Caledon to respond to Caledon emergencies. More paramedics will be sent to Caledon to cover ambulances assigned to calls. And more paramedics will be assigned to cover Caledon as the community grows.

OPSEU 277 The truth is, we don’t know. For large portions of the day, coverage in Caledon will be better in 2019, but sometimes it will be worse. The impact on response times depends on when the calls come in.

Myth 7. Caledon will be left empty on shift change.

There will be no gaps in ambulance coverage at shift changes. There are multiple shift start times, so that means the oncoming paramedics will be in Caledon before the paramedics ending their shifts are back at the reporting station.

OPSEU 277 The Union remains concerned that given the current demands, each morning will have a coverage gap of 17 minutes based on shift times, policies, and driving distances. This 17-minute period would be longer if call volumes or traffic conditions are worse than normal.

Myth 8. There will only be one ambulance for all of Caledon.

Not true. Caledon is prioritized in the centralized system. The same number of ambulances will serve Caledon as they do today. They will be automatically replaced by dispatch when another ambulance goes on a call.

OPSEU 277 We agree with our Employer’s response on this point; in 2019 there will be 2 ambulances, just as it was in 2007, despite a 260% increase in calls. However, we would note that high call volumes and busy ambulances mean that sometimes there will be no ambulances for Caledon. Sometimes there are no ambulances available in the whole region.

Click here >

Myth 9. Intimate knowledge of Caledon roads is critical.

All paramedics across Peel rely on directions from their dispatcher and navigational technology. No person – not even someone local – can keep up with minute-by-minute congestion and construction updates without technological help.

OPSEU 277 Think back to the last time you had trouble connecting your GPS in a rural area. We use the same GPS units. With the upcoming changes in 2019, this is not the first time the Union has had to go to the public regarding service concerns.

https://www.bramptonguardian.com/news-story/5971420-peel-ambulances-get-emergency-map-updates-after-union-sounds-alarm/

Myth 10. North Caledon residents won’t have any ambulance coverage at all.

Wrong. All of Caledon is prioritized in the new system, not just Bolton. Dispatch makes sure the closest ambulance is sent to each call. That might be us. Or it might be York, Simcoe or Dufferin, depending on how busy each ambulance service is in that moment.

OPSEU 277 This issue has previously been reported at town council. In 2012, Chief Peter Dundas provided an update to the Town of Caledon council entitled Paramedic Response in Caledon. This update indicated that, in many cases, Peel Paramedics themselves were not offering the same response time framework to the residents of Caledon (13:19 mins) as they were to Mississauga (11:19) and Brampton (10:48) 90% of the time. Additionally, in some cases, from York into Bolton, it averaged as high as 21 minutes.

Location Minutes
Peel 13:05
Dufferin 11:25
York 21:58
Halton 16:09
Simcoe 6:43

Click here >

Myth 11. Management never listens to paramedics.

Not true. There are many management-union-staff committees and working groups on all types of topics. Staff input is built into everything from equipment purchase decisions to deployment protocols. But like any other business, not every idea can be included in every decision.

OPSEU 277
The Union values our collaborative relationship with management and council. We are proud to stand with them on a wide range of issues. Like any other business, the workers can see how management’s decisions made with the best of intentions, can impact the customers. We see it as our role to speak not only for the workers, but also the people who we serve that do not have a seat at the table.

Region of Peel Caledon Paramedics Changes Fact Sheet and Q&A.

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