TORONTO, June 23 /CNW/ - On June 22nd Mayoral Candidate George Smitherman held a press conference and promised if he was elected he would amalgamate Toronto EMS and Fire Services.
The Toronto Paramedic Association has the following response to his proposal.
"It is very disappointing to hear a former Minister of Health who in the past has been very well informed in regards to EMS issues, make such unsubstantiated statements about Toronto EMS Paramedics and the service that we provide the citizens of this city."
Smitherman cited a report authored by the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs that stated "the best way to reduce response times is to better utilize the fire dept". This statement has no basis in facts and the "report" he cites is not based on any studies or evidence.
In fact most cities that have tried the EMS and Fire amalgamation model have seen it fail miserably.
Both Calgary and Edmonton amalgamated their EMS and Fire Services and ended up going back to separate services because it did not benefit their citizens, no more lives were saved and the move resulted in a much higher cost to the tax payers.
The bottom line is there are no studies and no evidence to show the superiority of Fire based services over independent EMS services.
If the goal in Toronto is to decrease the response times for Paramedics then the solution is simple, give Toronto EMS the budget and resources to increase the number of Ambulance stations, Ambulances on the road and the number of highly trained, educated and skilled professional Paramedic crews.
If Mr. Smitherman truly wants to improve response times for EMS and save more lives in Toronto, his first step should be to consult with the Paramedics of Toronto to get the facts.
It is the timely arrival of the skills and extensive medical training of our Paramedics that will save lives, therefore increasing their numbers in Toronto is what should be the next Mayor's top priority.
The issue of Paramedics becoming an essential service is something that the Toronto Paramedic Association supports as it will definitely save lives.
However the TPA supports this as a stand alone issue for Paramedics, not as part of an amalgamation with Fire.
SOURCE TORONTO PARAMEDIC ASSOCIATION
For further information: For further information: Roberta Scott, P.R. Director, Toronto Paramedic Association, 416 456-6989, firstname.lastname@example.org