NEWMARKET – York Region’s “offloading” crisis is putting patients at risk and creating such high stress levels for paramedics that many of them are suffering from burnout, says the union that represents them.
“The region has more older people and a far bigger population than it did years ago but there has not been a corresponding increase in the number of paramedics and ambulances, ” says John Benyik, a paramedic and the vice-chair of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) unit of Local 905, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). “We are on the front-lines, standing for hours on end in emergency rooms, waiting for beds to become free. In the meantime, patients are being put at risk. We need the government to do something about this situation now.”
Benyik says statistics show an average response time for York Region ambulances but they do not give an accurate picture of the crisis. “If you are having a heart attack, you may have to wait 20 minutes for an ambulance because there is only one on the road. The average response time is not going to help you,” says Benyik. “This is reality. A small number of paramedics are faced with responding to a great many very difficult situations while their co-workers are tied up at hospitals. We need more staff and more ambulances in York Region. There are big complaints about offloading in Toronto, but York Region is just as bad and the public needs to be aware of the situation.
“It is fine to spend money on transit, but we have an urgent need to fix our emergency services,” says Benyik.
CUPE Local 905 represents municipal workers across the region, including 300 paramedics.
For further information, please contact:
Shannon McManus, CUPE Communications - (416) – 292-3999 ext. 222