Why Ottawa paramedics want a new dispatch system
The province plans to move the city to a new paramedic dispatch system by 2019
For years, Ottawa paramedics have been calling for a new dispatch system that more accurately assesses the severity of the emergencies.
On Tuesday, the provincial government finally answered that call and vows to bring in a new dispatch system by 2019.
- New paramedic dispatch system to give most serious calls top priority
- Ottawa's daily struggle to find enough ambulances
Under the current dispatch system, an operator takes a 911 call, asks a series of questions to determine the severity of the patients' condition, and then dispatches the paramedics.
Code 4 calls are considered threatening to "life or limb." Time is critical, and paramedics race to the scene with lights and sirens.
According to 2015 numbers provided by the Ottawa Paramedic service, 73 per cent of the calls for ambulances that year were dispatched as a Code 4.
But once paramedics arrived at the scene and assessed the patients, only a very small percentage of these Code 4s were brought to the hospital as life-threatening cases.
Here is a chart that illustrates the problem Ottawa has been facing.