Ontario Pilot-Project Expands the Role of Paramedics

March 19th, 2015 by CTSCCC


Paramedics are the first responders to any accident or injury that is dialed into 911, and these employees carry the responsibility of successfully transporting a patient from the scene of the injury to the hospital. It is a fast-paced, active career which requires employees who are dedicated to healthcare and assisting those in need.

Greater Sudbury Emergency Medical Services, an ambulance service provider in the City of Sudbury, takes approximately 35,000 calls every year. Their services cover an area of 5,500 square kilometers, meaning that speed, efficiency and quality paramedic training are necessary to provide excellent healthcare for such a wide region of land.

Recently, the Ontario Health and Long-Term Care Minister, Deb Matthews, announced the expansion of the role of paramedics in the province. This $6 million dollar initiative plans to expand the use of community paramedicine specifically for the elderly and at-risk. Community paramedicine focuses on injury prevention and health promotion, by having paramedics visit former patients and frequent EMS users in their homes regularly to assess their level of health.

Read on to find out more about the recent need for community paramedicine, and the aims of this new Ontario initiative.

Demand for Extended EMS Services

Patients with complex and chronic issues, such as heart conditions or diabetes, are more likely to call for paramedic services more than once. Of course, not every one of these calls will require transportation to the hospital. EMS workers hold training from paramedic college, which enables them to assess a patient’s blood pressure, take a blood test and administer medication to patients (under the consultation of a physician), sometimes making a trip to the hospital unnecessary.

What Ontario is finding is that there is still not enough community support for patients with chronic conditions like diabetes, which means that 911 is sometimes a patient’s only option when they’re worried for their health. An increased focus on community paramedicine would not only help provide care for chronic patients through in-home visits—it would also work to provide these patients with education about caring for their illness.

Aims of the Project

Ontario’s new community paramedicine initiative would first and foremost facilitate fewer unnecessary EMS calls. This means more time for paramedics to tend to life-or-death injuries in other locations—which can be critical for both high-population cities and emergency service providers who cover vast areas of land, like Sudbury. Students who have graduated from a police program in Sudbury can surely attest to the difficulty of providing coverage for one of the largest city areas in the province. Preventative healthcare measures would also result in fewer patients being transported to the hospital, which will off-set the burden on Canada’s currently understaffed healthcare sector.

But a large reason for this new paramedic initiative is to ultimately provide better care for chronic illness patients in Ontario. Increased community paramedicine measures would provide patients with more one-on-one healthcare services, which may include checking in that patients are taking their medication, or frequent in-home checkups for elderly patients.

This pilot project is a part of a 10-year plan formed by the Ontario government.

Do you believe that community paramedicine services could be an effective healthcare solution?