Paramedics say at least 12 more hours of coverage are needed per day immediately in order to save lives.
Richmond Hill, Ontario — Having only two ambulances staffed and stationed in Sarnia is not only putting its population of over 75,000 at risk, but also everyone living in the County of Lambton, say the County’s paramedics and their union, SEIU Healthcare.
If Sarnia requires service from a third ambulance, one is deployed from elsewhere in the County of Lambton, leaving a community such as Grand Bend or Petrolia vulnerable until their ambulance can return.
County of Lambton paramedics and SEIU Healthcare have raised the issue with Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley and Lambton County Councillors on many occasions and most recently in February, with a letter requesting 12 more hours of ambulance coverage per day “in order to save lives”, but the issue has gone unaddressed, leaving County of Lambton residents at significant risk.
Ambulance coverage and paramedic staffing levels in the County of Lambton, which is home to over 130,000 residents, has not increased since 2003, with no additional ambulances added to its fleet since 2000. With 911 ambulance service calls having increased by almost 20% since 2015, the need for more ambulatory coverage in the area has never been more severe.
Should this issue continue to go unaddressed, SEIU Healthcare is planning the launch of a campaign to bring awareness of these issues to the public. In 2018, the union launched their “Not In The Budget” campaign in the Chatham-Kent area, which was successful in lobbying local city council to add 12 more hours of ambulance coverage and hire four more paramedics, which they’ve since increased even further to meet the needs of their community.
“We know that close to 60% of Lambton County’s 911 calls happen within the city of Sarnia, yet only 20% of the County’s ambulances operate out of the Sarnia Ambulance base,” said SEIU Healthcare President Sharleen Stewart. “It’s been over 20 years since the County has added an ambulance to it’s fleet despite increasing call volumes. Someone experiencing a medical emergency, from a heart attack, to an overdose, to injuries from an accident, doesn’t have time to wait for an ambulance coming from a neighbouring community. That is why we are asking the County of Lambton to immediately add 12 more hours of ambulance coverage inside the city of Sarnia.”
SEIU Healthcare represents more than 60,000 healthcare and community service workers across Ontario. The union’s members work in hospitals, homecare, nursing and retirement homes, and community services throughout the province. www.seiuhealthcare.ca
For media inquiries, contact:
SEIU Healthcare, Head of Strategic Communications