DSSAB hears update about land ambulance

Land ambulance service has been operating under the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board for one year after taking over the contracts from Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc. on Jan. 1, 2007.
And at its regular meeting last Thursday night, DSSAB heard an update from Emergency Medical Services supervisors Ed Carlson (Fort Frances) and Trevor Johnson (Atikokan).
The pair informed the board of their duties, as well as stressed the benefits of the change in management.
Although noting Atikokan General Hospital and Riverside should receive praise for the work they did with the ambulance service prior to last January, Johnson said he’s pleased to see the bases and paramedics unified across the district.
“Staff moral is up overall, which is a big thing,” Carlson stressed. “We really feel as though we are a part of the organization.”
Johnson explained there also are obvious and significant cost savings partly because they can buy supplies in bulk. And there is greater control over the ambulance service at a board level, he added.
“There’s more input from communities,” continued Johnson, noting DSSAB is made up of a representative from each municipality.
“They have a say in how they want the ambulance service run . . . I think it’s been a very positive change.”
Johnson said he’s heard a lot of positive comments from the public, too.
Carlson said the transition was smooth, and that the newly-renovated ambulance bases in Fort Frances and Emo are very functional.
Regarding their duties, Johnson noted he’s in charge of quality assurance and training while Carlson heads up logistics and operations.
They report to DSSAB’s health service manager Dan McCormick, and keep him informed of what is going on.
There also is a 24-hour duty officer on call that is alternated bi-weekly. Carlson explained in the middle of the night, the supervisor on call often deals with sick replacements and sets up transfers.
If they can’t find anyone to work, they must go in themselves.
“You can be busy all day and almost every night have a call,” Carlson noted.
Meanwhile, Johnson noted he audits the ambulance calls, and that both go on “ride outs” to ensure the high standard of service is being maintained.
“It’s a great tool,” Carlson enthused. “The medics appreciate it. We’re there as a third set of hands, but at the same time we’re evaluating them. . . . It helps them do their job.”
Also for quality assurance, the pair explained there is staff testing for new paramedics and those who have been away for 90 days or more.
They also regularly conduct research on diseases, new trends, and new equipment, and make up packages to give to the paramedics, who have to complete a quiz on the research.
With about 45 paramedics working within Rainy River District, Johnson said the area is fortunate to have quality staff at its full standard.
Carlson said he takes care of vehicle files and vehicle maintenance, but one of his favourite parts of the job is the public relations—event planning, PSAs, and speaking engagements on EMS.
“It’s nice for people to see us out there,” he remarked.