By Chad Ingram
As a cottaging community, it’s common for Haliburton County to
experience a spike in EMS calls during the months of July and August,
but that spike was especially large in 2018.
Councillors on the county’s EMS committee received a year-in-review report for 2018 during a May 8 meeting.
Calls for July and August were up 17 per cent from 2017. Overall for
the year, there was a 3.4 per cent increase in call volumes to the
Haliburton County Paramedic Service.
The Haliburton EMS station responded to the most calls. It has two
active ambulances stationed there, more than at the county’s other EMS
“That’s why it always appears to be the busiest,” paramedic chief Tim
Waite told councillors on the committee. The Haliburton station
responded to 3,636 calls during 2018, compared to 1,633 calls responded
to by the Minden station and 1,415 responded to out of Tory Hill.
“We did meet or exceed [the goals for] all of our response times,”
Waite said, indicating the service was close to the line on meeting its
targets for responses to sudden, cardiac arrests. The goal is to make it
to 20 per cent of such calls within six minutes. As Waite explained,
because they are so few calls for sudden cardiac arrests in the county,
“one call can skew that, one way of the other.”
The committee was supportive of adding a night shift at the Tory Hill
base. That shift would include staffing a night ambulance Monday
through Thursday, and will cost an additional $47,000 in wages and
benefits, which was included in the county’s 2019 budget.
“We only have two ambulances on at night,” Waite said, explaining
that if those ambulances end up doing out-of-county transfers, “it
doesn’t take long to have zero ambulances in the county.”
“We have a big county, and we never want to be in a situation where
we have zero ambulances,” said Dysart et al Mayor Andrea Roberts.
Waite added that the up-staffing at the Tory Hill base provides an
additional vehicle to be stationed in Algonquin Highlands up until 11
The county recently received its 2019 land ambulance funding from the
province – ambulance services are funded half by the provincial
government, and half by municipalities. For 2019, the county actually
got slightly more funding than it budgeted for – $2.6 million, versus
the $2.57 million that had been included in the budget.
“We always budget as if we’re not going to get any increase,” said
chief administrative officer Mike Rutter, adding this conservative
method of budgeting can sometimes mean the county gets a bit more than
it was anticipating.
However, Rutter has said Haliburton County’s ambulance costs are
expected to rise substantially, as a result of a planned merger of
ambulance services by the provincial government. That merger will group
more than 50 ambulance services throughout Ontario into 10 services. And
because the county currently has a low per-household ambulance cost,
regardless of what services it is grouped with, its costs will go up.
The annual cost of the ambulance service in Haliburton County is $238
per household, versus $748 per household in Hastings, for example, and
$953 per household in Frontenac County.