Welcome To
Acadia Broadcasting NewsThe Latest and Greatest ContentYour Trusted Local Source


Superior North EMS Chief Shane Muir provides an update on the EMS Master Plan on October 30, 2023 (Adam Riley / Acadia Broadcasting)

Superior North EMS deliver update to council

By CJ Goater Oct 31, 2023 | 1:55 PM

Superior North EMS Chief Shane Muir delivered SNEMS Work Plan Annual Update, as per the 2021-2030 Master Plan for the Superior North Emergency Medical Service which the Committee of the Whole received on January 25, 2021

The work plan addressed recommendations contained in the SNEMS Master Plan as well as the Ministry of Health and SNEMS implementation of the Medical Priority Dispatch System. The report also contained updates to district operations as well as updates to response time and operational analytics.

The North Shore Non-Urgent Transportation initiative achieved time savings of 843.3 hours of emergency coverage on the North Shore alone. The success of the program has led to baseline funding to continue.

North Shore Base Consolidation – The municipalities of Schreiber & Terrace Bay have submitted proposals to administration to be reviewed, but the municipalities of Nipigon and Red Rock have yet to submit there’s.

An update was also provided on the Beardmore to Longlac staff and asset relocation which took place in March, to increase emergency coverage and better utilize available resources.

The Beardmore Community Paramedic First Response initiative has been operational since May.

The Community Paramedicine Response Unit is utilized to address non-emergency situations, and by doing so allows EMS to handle higher priority cases. According to SNEMS “Collaborative efforts with community stakeholders are already underway to explore
expanding the program’s scope.”

There is potential for the Community response unit to see a new strategy that would change the CPRU deployment plan to encompass nearby communities such as Nipigon, Red Rock, and Greenstone. The hope is to maximize the program’s value and impact.

The City of Thunder Bay received confirmation via letter stating an increase in the base funding supported by upper levels of government. The Ministry of Health will provide The City of Thunder Bay up to $1,500,000 in base funding for the enhancement of ambulance coverage at the Longlac and Marathon stations for the Land Ambulance Services Grant (LASG) for the 2023 calendar year

A groundbreaking ceremony was officially held for the new Shuniah EMS station on May 5th, 2023. The construction project is on track for completion in November and will offer an opportunity to implement emergency response operations in the new station before 2024.

The update delivers exciting news as to the progress being made, but there is a reason the progress was required.

SNEMS has seen call demand rise, increased time taken for transfer of patients to occur, and inappropriate triage of emergency calls.

From 2016 to 2022, SNEMS saw call volume increase by over 30%. A significant majority of these calls were deemed low priority returns which often resulted in delays to transfer of patient care at the emergency department.

68.6% of emergency calls are dispatched as Code 4 Urgent (requiring lights and sirens) responses. Return priority, after paramedic assessment, is dramatically lower, accounting for 4.2% of calls being a return priority of Code 4. (68.6% of calls are deemed an emergency, and only 4.2% are deemed an emergency upon returning from the scene(code 4))

The result is patients waiting for hospital admittance while in the care of paramedics on “offload delay”. The gap between dispatch and return priorities is being addressed by the launch of the Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS) slated to go live in January 2024.

“From 2016 our 90 percentile was 17 mins and now 2022 it was nearly 2 hours, so we are seeing significant time that our paramedics are sitting at the hospital waiting to offload patients. This is a healthcare system capacity issue, these are low acuity(non-emergency) patients, hence why they are sitting on offload delay, and we need to do other system changes in order to support are healthcare system.”

“We are creating a new dispatch priority model. That is the medical priority dispatch system, this is going to include new colour coding priority models, new dispatch language.. much better call-taking, (with) open-ended questions,” explained Superior North EMS Chief Shane Muir

“Open-ended questions allow (SNEMS) to get much more accurate information from the caller, and really accurately prioritize that response. There is a complete response plan overview, with a deployment plan, incident reassignment capabilities, and of course requesting additional units on scene by paramedics and allied agencies.”

The new system is designed to more efficiently distribute EMS services.

Another issue mentioned on a few occasions through discussion was recruitment, and retention of staff. Muir noted that a lack of online presence could negatively impact the department’s chance of recruiting staff.

“We had 17 recruited through the spring hire last year, we just went for an open posting on a fall hire as well, we had 15 applicants, and we’ve had 0 recruits come from that. We’ve actually lost quite a few from that 17 initial losing them to other services, other industries, and different services down in Southern Ontario. explained Superior North EMS Chief Shane Muir

“We actually set up interviews, and people didn’t call and they didn’t show up. It’s just the kind of time we are dealing with, and that partly might be because of that inability to actually google SNEMS. I feel that’s severely hindering us right now in the sense that, a lot of the young recruits that’s the first thing they are going to do. They want to see what media presence is out there, what we have done in the past, and what our service is all about.”

Muir adds it’s not as big of a problem within the city of Thunder Bay but more so in the district.

The SNEMS Work Plan Update has a report back date of March 30, 2025 at the latest.