City Chooses Lansdowne Over Ambulances

One of the best arguments against Lansdowne came in a post by Bulldog commentator Mike Patton in which he picked up on news that taxis in a pilot project would be used to transport sick people to hospital emergency departments.

That is an absolute outrage. People know how to call taxis.

Ambulances are a basic service. One of the most basic of services. The city responds to people in crisis. And the paramedic service doesn’t have enough resources to do its job. That’s why when one hears that the municipal government is prepared to pay $419 million at Lansdowne, it’s very concerning.

Taxi drivers are dealing with the injured and ill while Ottawa pours good money after bad into a shopping centre downtown. This is unconscionable.

Meanwhile, we are facing a refuse crisis in a few years which will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to remedy. We have a transportation crisis because people can’t rely on the basic service of mass transit. We are pouring billions into a luxurious light-rail system that doesn’t work. Our roads are appalling. Due to the lateness of light rail, construction is massively disrupting traffic. And we’re paying $1 billion for e-buses that might not be appropriate for our climate.

FCA Firmly Rejects Lansdowne 2.0

So when this publication calls for a return to basic government services, we mean the above. Among other things, it means not putting people in a medical situation in the hands of an untrained taxi driver.

Our ambulance service was in a shambles when former regional chairman Bob Chiarelli was first elected. He and ex-paramedic chief Tony Di Monte and chief medical officer of health Bob Cushman lobbied to get a failing provincial ambulance service into the hands of the regional government. And they succeeded.

They brought in elite training for our paramedics who are heroes in the municipal public service. They lowered response times. They created sophisticated dispatch services to speed people in crisis into care.

But now the City of Ottawa puts Lansdowne ahead of people being sent to hospitals in taxis. In taxis … unbelievable.

It’s hard to imagine a municipality at a lower ebb than the City of Ottawa. The provincial light-rail inquiry found a city staff and senior politicians bankrupt of ethics and competence. And now its priorities are skewed such that Lansdowne takes a higher priority than our ambulance service. And our new city manager calls her predecessor “great.”

Ottawa City Hall does not live in the same world as the people paying taxes that support it.

City hall needs a reality check. The City of Ottawa is doing, not a bad job, but a horrible job.

The culture of our municipal government is sick. Someone should call a taxi to send that culture to emergency.

Ken Gray 



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3 Responses

  1. sisco farraro says:

    Most people who are in dire need of assistance call ambulances. When they arrive at the hospital they see a nurse or doctor more quickly than if they are driven by a family member or taxi driver because paramedics run tests during the trip to the hospital. I had a stroke 4 years ago. Mercifully I didn’t have to sit for 5 hours in the waiting room with other patients with lesser problems whose biggest issue was trying to figure out which was the healthiest choice of junk food they could get out of the vending machines.

  2. The Voter says:

    My understanding of this proposal is that the paramedics would still attend at your home and do the same preliminary assessment as they do now. If you are in need of medical attention but not the level of care that would be provided in an ambulance on the way to the hospital, they would call a cab to take you to Emerg. This would apply in situations such as a sprained ankle or a serious cut requiring stitches. The paramedics would do preliminary care such as strapping the ankle or cleaning and bandaging the cut before dispatching you in a taxi.

    In cases that require the ongoing services of a paramedic such as a heart attack or a broken leg, the ambulance would still transport you to the hospital. The paramedics would continue to treat you until they can turn you over to hospital staff.

    One of the main reasons that we are chronically short of ambulances and paramedics at any given point is that, when an ambulance arrives at the hospital, they can’t just drop you off at the reception desk in Emergency and go on to their next call. They have to wait with you until the hospital has space to bring you in and examine you. Until that happens, they maintain responsibility for you.

    The person with the sprained ankle may not be able to get to the hospital under their own steam, i.e. may be unable to drive and not have anyone they can ask to take them, so they call an ambulance. They may not know the extent of the damages and be concerned about making it worse so they want a trained health care professional to assess them to be sure they’re doing the right thing. Once they’ve had an initial assessment, it may be that all they need is a ride to the hospital to have the injury treated appropriately. That’s the point when a cab would be called. It makes no sense for two highly-trained paramedics and a fully-equipped ambulance to be taken out of service for, potentially, hours when all you need is a ride to Emerg.

    What this means for Sisco when he has a stroke and others with serious medical conditions is that, when they call an ambulance, there will be one available in a much shorter time than is currently the case. There have been repeated occurrences in recent years when there were no ambulances available across the city. If you’re having a stroke, you can’t afford to wait 45 minutes (or longer) for the ambulance to get there and the paramedics to begin life-saving treatments before and during the trip to the hospital.

    The other thing that would be a game changer would be to have a dedicated unit within the Emergency Department that would receive patients when they arrive by ambulance and continue the interim care they were receiving from the paramedics until there is a space for that patient to be taken over by hospital staff. This has been suggested many times but has run into roadblocks partly because ambulance services are municipally funded and the hospitals, which are provincially funded, don’t want to pay for that extra period of patient care. When the province is nickel and diming existing hospital services, you can understand why hospitals don’t want to take on any more unfunded expenditures. The province seems totally incapable of seeing that it would be cheaper overall and contribute to better patient outcomes if paramedics were out on the road instead of hanging around hospital hallways.

  3. sisco farraro says:

    Aha. Thanks for the further explanation to this issue. So far all we’ve been hearing is the yin, nice to hear the yang as well. I feel a bit safer now. It appears now that much of this issue could be resolved if we could smooth out the bureaucratic issues that always seem to get in the way. Thanks again.

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