Health ministry investigates “silent running” ambulances

Health ministry investigates “silent running” ambulances

“They have launched two separate investigations on us,” said Michel Chétien, director of emergency services for the United Counties of Prescott-Russll (UCPR).

The focus of the investigations is the “silent running” protocol that Prescott-Russell Ambulance ambulance adopted June 4 as part of the long-running battle between the UCPR, the City of Ottawa, and Ontario’s health ministry over out-of-town ambulance calls.

Ottawa owes the UCPR more than $1 million in costs for use of Prescott-Russell ambulance units to handle some of the city’s emergency calls. Ottawa claims it is under no legal obligation to pay and continues to make use of UCPR ambulances.

Provincial policy for ambulance dispatch requires units to respond when required, even if the call is in a neighbouring jurisdiction. Ottawa’s demand on PR ambulance units has been so great sometimes that there are none available when UCPR residents need ambulance service.

UCPR officials have complained without results about the situation to Queens Park before approving the “silent running” protocol. Now Prescott-Russell units on their way home from outside call situation ignore any other outside calls from dispatch until they have returned to base. Then they are available for outside calls again.

Chrétien is now waiting for the ministry to complete its investigation. He does not know if the ministry report will result in any kind of legal action against the UCPR.

“It may, it may not,” he said. “Our hope is that it doesn’t. But we want to insure the service to our community. The ministry has to understand that.”

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