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Paramedic services lacking in remote First Nations communities

A doctor who teaches at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine is calling for training to help remote communities respond to medical emergencies.

Report suggests volunteers be trained to help during emergencies

Emergency help is just a 9-1-1 call away in most communities, but a new report on emergency response in Ontario's far north shows that's not the case everywhere.

A doctor who teaches at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine is calling for training to help remote communities respond to medical emergencies.

Dr. Aaron Orkin, the lead author of a report on emergency response issues in the far north, said the report highlights the lack of paramedics, or 9-1-1 service.

Orkin said it's possible to teach some of the most important skills paramedics would use to people in the community.

“We know that when people are ill or injured, doing something is always better than doing nothing,” he said. “We think that we can train lots of people to give people the most important interventions when they are sick or injured.”

Orkin said the next step is to obtain funding to provide the training, with the eventual goal to bring it to all Nishnawbe-Aski communities. NAN represents hundreds of First Nations communities across the Far north.

“We are not aiming to say that, forevermore, we should just have volunteers or people who have taken a five-day course providing all of the emergency services in the north,” Orkin continued.

“[We are] pointing out that, for lack of paramedics, it's not ok to just have nothing.”

Orkin noted a city like Sudbury spends between $60 and $70 per person to provide ambulance and paramedic services. A community-based approach to emergency response in remote communities would cost less than that, he said.

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