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(Ottawa) The City of Ottawa should immediately hire at least 14 more paramedics and ensure that rural ambulance stations are staffed at all times, said Brian Madden, Vice-President of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 503, representing Ottawas ambulance dispatchers and paramedics.

We are heartened that the City agrees with bringing Ottawas Emergency Medical System up to adequate staffing levels, said Madden. We make this recommendation in the spirit of working together. Lets do it, and then lets make sure rural areas have ambulances at the ready at all times.

CUPEs recommendations were presented today to a jurors inquest investigating the tragic death of a Greely, ON, woman last fall. Alice Martin died en route to hospital on October 14th, 2003, after waiting almost 20 minutes for an ambulance. An inquest into her death wrapped up today with a range of recommendations being presented to the jury by CUPE, the Ministry of Health, the City of Ottawa as well as the lawyer for the presiding coroner, Dr. Benoit Bechard. The jurys response to these recommendations is expected this week or next.

Last week the Chief of Ottawas Paramedic Service, Anthony Di Monte, testified at the inquest that the City risks ongoing delays for ambulance service if new staff arent hired quickly. Madden said that CUPE concurs with Di Monte, adding that the union, the city and the Coroners lawyer have all agreed that more ambulance and dispatch staff, more advanced life support paramedics and more recent dispatch technology would improve both service and community safety.

After we hire more staff, lets make sure 100 per cent of all ambulances have a paramedic with advanced life support (ALS) training, said Madden. And lets leave the DOS age behind and get new computer dispatching equipment. Lets use the technology that most of the world is using.

Madden was referring to AMPDS, advanced medical priority dispatch system, which is widely considered the industry standard dispatching technology and is used around the world. CUPE is also urging additional training for dispatchers, among other recommendations, to meet the needs of the Ottawa community.

The best response we can offer, as a community, is to try our best to make sure that this kind of tragedy never happens again, said Madden. And the quickest way to do this is to ensure adequate staffing levels and make sure that rural ambulance stations actually have ambulances ready and waiting for calls at all times.


For more information:
Brian Madden, Vice-President, CUPE 503, cell 613-851-2740
David Robbins, CUPE Communications, cell 613-878-1431