The Cold Lake Ambulance Society (CLAS) recently presented to Cold Lake City Council in the hope that the City would have money in 2016 Budget for CLAS to help with CLAS with its capital budget. The society was encouraged to also seek help from the MD of Bonnyville, and have set up a delegation to MD Council on December 2nd, 2015.
President of the Cold Lake Ambulance Society Debra Pelechosky explains the situation, “we have three ambulances 24/7 on call. We have one flex car that comes in as a third response.” The ambulances are usually situated one in the north, one in the south, each with a paramedic on board. “If a transfer doesn’t require a paramedic, we may keep those two ambulances in town and the BLS [flex] unit would take the transfer to Edmonton.”
CLAS is able to run the current arrangement and break-even, explains Pelechosky, “to keep the current level of service, we can operate but we can’t put any money away for our capital budget.” Money saved would go towards repairs and maintenance on equipment throughout the year. “We went to City Council to see if we could get a put-away grant or a grant to put towards service so we could put away for capital,” Pelechosky explains City Council wasn’t the society’s first stop, “we went to Hearts for Healthcare and they explained they would partner with us if the City of Cold Lake and the MD of Bonnyville contributed.”
Money would be used to maintain the current level of service, says Pelechosky, “we feel the call volume in Cold Lake is substantial that we need to keep three ambulances in service at all times. One stationed in the north, one in the south and a third car that comes in when it’s needed.”
We want to make sure that when someone calls 911, we can get an ambulance to your door in the least amount of time as possible – Debra Pelechosky President of Cold Lake Ambulance Society
CLAS has statistic backing its staff have lower than average go-time, meaning it takes CLAS 55 seconds to the provincial standard 90 seconds to get ready and on the road. It can take up to 10 minutes to travel from one end of Cold Lake to the next and when staff are not in the building, on flex-time, it’s another 8 minutes logged on. Pelechosky explains CLAS is doing what they can to reduce wait times and would like to see AHS help them further by putting a forth full-time ambulance in Cold Lake.
“The City is working on solutions to add another ambulance, and finding ways to make it easier for AHS to allow another ambulance,” Pelechosky explains it’s been a lengthy process. “It’s hard when we know we have the staff to man a forth car, we just need the go-ahead.”
With the need of a forth ambulance in the City, there’s no way CLAS could justify going down to two full-time ambulances and two flex cars. “We wouldn’t be able to provide the same level of service,” states Pelechosky.
Seconds matter -Debra Pelechosky President of Cold Lake Ambulance Society
The only hurdle Pelechosky sees to getting funding from the City and/or MD is both would like a guarantee that there would be an ambulance in the City of Cold Lake at all times, eliminating the incidences of “Code Reds”. A Code Red is when the City is without an ambulance for an extended period of time. In 2015, to date, the City of Cold Lake has logged over 100 hours of Code Red status.
Pelechosky explains there’s no way to guarantee an ambulance would always be in the City because even if the majority of times there was enough staff and buses, there could be extraordinary days where the City would experience a higher than average call volume. Basically, there’s no way for CLAS to predict or limit the number of calls that come in.
We’re in the business of saving lives. We want to do it in the least amount of time as possible – Debra Pelechosky President of Cold Lake Ambulance Society