Emergency calls up in Haliburton County
By Elizabeth Bate
The following are brief reports of items discussed at the July 22 meeting of Haliburton County council.
EMS calls in Haliburton County are up 36 per cent from last year for the period from Jan. 1 to June 30, Craig Jones, director of the department of emergency services, said.
Jones said non-emergency calls decreased by two per cent, while the increase was seen in 472 urgent calls, up from 325 over the same period in 2014; and 704 emergency calls, up from 515 over the same period in 2014.
“It’s a pretty significant increase, obviously. We’re still managing,” said Jones.
Calls that take paramedics outside of the county more often have increased as well, according to Jones, whether it is responding to calls in other counties or executing patient transfers to and from other counties.
Jones said the department is attempting to mitigate the impact of the increased call volume by adding more staff on the weekends and taking fewer non-emergency calls outside of Haliburton County to help other areas whose vehicles are tied up on calls. For those calls outside the county, a 60 minute hold-time has been developed for non-emergency calls in which a patient can reasonably wait for service if all other vehicles are busy, freeing up Haliburton County to attend to patients here. “That was a great collaboration by the chiefs to come up with that and ensure that no one is depleting anyone else’s resources unnecessarily,” said Jones.
The department is also taking fewer patient transfers from the hospital when all four county trucks are occupied, having those call outsourced to patient transfer services.
Jones reported a new data collection and call-tracking program called iMedic is making it easier for the department to track call response times, usage areas and areas where there could be greater efficiencies.
Side-by-side decision deferred
Council delayed making a decision on whether to allow side-by-side vehicles to travel on the Rail Trail in favour taking more time to review the issue.
Concerns regarding signage, staff and resources, brushing, and the width of the trail were discussed at the council meeting.
Operations manager Sylvin Cloutier said the 33-kilometre trail is 10 to 12 feet wide, however approximately 65 per cent or 21 kilometres of that trail is in need of brushing, reducing the width to only seven or eight feet in some areas.
Cloutier said about $10,000 had been allocated to complete some mechanical brushing this fall, but to complete the 21-kilometre length of trail would require a budget of $24,000.
Councillors expressed concern about the look of mechanical brushing, which is less expensive and takes less time to complete, but shreds the brush overhanging onto the trail.
Manual brushing was discussed as an option, but would require a larger budget.
Manufacturers are allowed to make side-by-sides up to 6.6 feet wide not including mirrors.
While there isn’t a side-by-side in production that exceeds five feet in width, Cloutier pointed out this wouldn’t prevent a manufacturer from creating one up to the maximum allowable width.
Cloutier expressed concerns with visibility due to the brush overhang and the current width of trails, which may cause a hazard to other trail users should side-by-sides be allowed to operate on the Rail Trail.
Council voted to defer the decision on the new bylaw to a future meeting to allow more research and discussion into the issue.
Elizabeth Bate is a reporter/photographer with the Haliburton Echo and Minden Times. You can follow her on Twitter@ElizabethBate.