The head of the province's paramedic association says COVID-19 has shown that there simply aren't enough resources at all levels of our healthcare system, especially as hospital pressures trickle down to local paramedic services.
During the recent surge in transmission of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, "Level Zero" -- when there are zero ambulances available in a municipality -- has been a daily occurance in Ontario, according to Darryl Wilton, the president of the Ontario Paramedic Association.
"You could look at Toronto, you could look at Ottawa -- even when we're not at a Level Zero, we're usually very close to it," said Wilton on Tuesday,January 11.
Two of the key factors behind recent Level Zero incidents, according to Wilton, are the volume of emergency calls and offload delays -- which is when a paramedic team is waiting at a hospital to transfer a patient from their ambulance into the emergency department.
"Offload delays have been around for a decade, worse now than ever before, and we're now finding paramedics staffing emergency departments for hours on end," Wilton told The Rob Snow Show on CityNews Ottawa.
Wilton says even before the recent strain on ambulance services, Ontario's paramedics have had a long 22 months of pandemic; being tapped for things like flying to the far north to help with pandemic-fighting efforts, COVID-19 testing and vaccinations of people too unwell to leave their homes, and covering for staff of long-term care homes who were out sick with COVID-19.
Listen to Wilton's full conversation with Rob Snow: