Paramedics with Toronto EMS will wear bright yellow t-shirts on Tuesdays and Fridays as part of a public awareness campaign highlighting the problems they face meeting standard response times for emergency calls.
“Our members are proud to be part of Toronto EMS, one of the finest services of its kind, but having an insufficient number of ambulances on the street is taking its toll on both paramedics and their patients,” said Brian Cochrane, president of Toronto Civic Employees Union Local 416 (CUPE).
With at most 90 ambulances on call to serve a daytime population of about three million people, the average response time for serious emergencies is 12 minutes – well short of the industry standard of just under nine minutes, Cochrane said. Toronto paramedics are able to reach the standard just 69% of the time.
“Each paramedic serves more than 4,000 people, which is the highest worker to population ratio in the city’s emergency services,” he said. “We need more ambulances and more paramedics so that more lives can be saved.”
As part of their campaign, paramedics will no longer voluntarily sign on to staff events such as Taste of the Danforth, Toronto Pride Parade or the Canadian National Exhibition because that further reduces the number of ambulances on call, Cochrane said. They will focus on performing the duties that they are hired to do.
“We have been talking to the politicians at City Hall about the problem. Now it’s time to take it to the public to try to get the modest increases in ambulances and paramedics that will allow our members to meet standard response times and improve patient care.”