Hamilton ambulance response times down

Ambulance response times in Hamilton are down, according to a report presented to the city's emergency and community services committee.

Ambulance response times in Hamilton are down, according to a report presented to the city’s emergency and community services committee.

Between January and August, the first emergency services vehicle reached the scene in 10 minutes and 30 seconds or less in nine out of 10 calls — down from 10 minutes and 48 seconds in 2011.

However, that’s still 27 seconds longer than the provincial target for Hamilton.

The total length of an average ambulance call is also down, from approximately 98 minutes in 2011 to 89 minutes in the first eight months of 2012.

The report also looks at "Code Zero" events, periods of time in which one or fewer transport ambulances are available to respond to an emergency. There were 128 such events between January and the end of August, compared to 223 during the whole of last year.

Ward 15 councillor Judi Partridge said that though the numbers look promising, it’s still early to judge whether they represent a real improvement over last year.

"Although that looks great, and it is significantly lower than 2011; 2011 was based on all 12 months of the year."

"If the remaining months are going to put us higher than last year’s figures, we’ve got a real problem we need to look at."

The report, prepared by Brent Browett, director of Hamilton Emergency Services, identifies that there’s been an increase in the amount of time that ambulances spend at hospitals over the past several years.

Partridge said this is an area in which the city, in partnership with its hospitals, must make improvements.

"In some cases, it’s over an hour where we have two paramedics that have to be held up with an ambulance in the hospital — and it’s every hospital, though some are better than others."  

"The pressure, from our perspective, is really on the hospitals, and working with them, to figure out how we can get something in place where we have someone at a hospital to take possession of a patient and release our paramedics faster."