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Council approves paramedic-led management of AED program in Lanark County

The Lanark County Paramedic Service will assume management responsibilities for AEDs across the county as part of an ongoing effort to enhance emergency medical services in the communities they serve. – Lanark County Paramedic Service Facebook

The Lanark County Paramedic Service (LCPS) will assume management responsibilities for Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) across the county, following approval by Lanark County Council earlier this month. This decision comes as part of an ongoing effort to enhance emergency medical services within the community.

During a recent corporate services committee meeting, Deputy Clerk Megan Beson outlined the transition, noting that the Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) Program Policy, initially adopted by council in 2011, will undergo updates. The PAD program was established to ensure accessibility to advanced medical care in designated public facilities. Staff will bring an updated policy to a future committee meeting.

Originally supported by funding from the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the program facilitated the installation of 126 AEDs in various public buildings throughout the county and Smiths Falls. However, with the expiration of the contract awarded to AED Authority, the county saw an opportunity to reassess management services.

Beson highlighted that the LCPS, equipped with capable staff and a desire to oversee the AED program, presents a cost-effective solution, saving an estimated $14,000. This shift also promises benefits such as compatibility with existing equipment, on-site CPR and AED training by paramedics, streamlined patient record-keeping post-AED usage, improved awareness of AED locations, and an enhanced level of medical care in the community.

Furthermore, the move towards paramedic-led management opens avenues for potential program expansions, such as the “Neighbours Saving Neighbours” initiative, fostering a stronger network of emergency response within Lanark County.

PARAMEDIC SUMMARY REPORT

Council received the summary of Lanark County Paramedic Service (LCPS) activities for 2023, as presented to the corporate services committee on Feb. 15 by LCPS Chief Travis Mellema.

Mellema outlined achievements in the Community Paramedicine Program, which has been extended until March 2026. Last year saw an increase in the number of patients enrolled in the program, along with annualized program expansion funding from the Ministry of Health, allowing for full-time positions and a more stable and formalized team. Since 2019, 1,509 clients have been served.

Now 10 medics rotate monthly between delivering 911 services and community paramedicine services. The number of patient interactions, including in-home and virtual visits, has also increased. Mellema outlined special training for community paramedics, as well in-home services provided, referrals to other community resources and a range of partnerships.

Other program activities included vaccine and wellness clinics for influenza and COVID-19 and a new point of care (POC) diagnostic tool that allows community paramedics to test patients for COVID-19, influenza, RSV and strep in their homes, which increases access to testing for homebound or mobility-challenged individuals. The community paramedics have also been authorized to treat patients over 65 who are at home or in congregate care for COVID-19 or influenza if they have tested positive and have moderate to severe symptoms, as well as treating urinary tract infections for adult females. This helps to divert patients from emergency rooms.

The service has also joined the External Violence Against Paramedics Program, which helps create a safe working environment with a better understanding of external violence by patients and bystanders paramedics encounter.

Mellema said there were 44 external violence incident reports in 2023.

Other highlights of the report include:

  • Increased contacts with staff for the Lanark County Paramedic Peer Support team and increased training and resources to support staff.
  • An update on operations with the loss of the Almonte base due a to fire in March 2023.
  • Staff promotions and development, along with student practicum placements and recruitment
    efforts.
  • A summary of the more than 11,400 hours of training completed by LCPS paramedics last year.
  • Community outreach activities, including a long-service and save pin ceremony, active shooter
    training with the OPP, the inaugural Lanark County Female First Responders Camp, food drives
    and more.
    Response time standards for sudden cardiac arrest and Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale levels.

Mellema also provided the call summary for 2023, which showed a drop in calls that could be attributed in part to the increased use of the community paramedicine program.

“In 2023, the top three reasons to call 911 were for breathing problems, unknown emergencies or falls,” he said. The busiest day of the week for calls in 2023 was Monday, and the busiest base was Perth, followed by Montague. Peak call volume was between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m., and people aged 51 and older made up about 76 per cent of all calls.

He also gave an overview of the total calls LCPS were dispatched to in other areas. Overall, these calls dropped last year: 2,701 in 2023 compared to 3,253 in 2022, with an increase to Leeds and Grenville but a decrease in Ottawa, Renfrew and Frontenac. Responses by other services in Lanark County increased from 413 in 2022 to 446 in 2023.

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