Peel and Halton regions had by far the slowest ambulance dispatch centre in Ontario last year, its poor performance costing paramedics crucial seconds in their responses to heart attacks and other life-threatening problems.
The provincial government requires dispatch centres to notify paramedics of urgent 9-1-1 calls within two minutes.
According to provincial data, only two of 17 dispatch centres failed to do so at least 90 per cent of the time for the most serious calls: Lindsay, at 84 per cent, and the Peel-Halton centre in Mississauga, at 65 per cent.
Peel Regional Paramedic Services director Peter Dundas called the figure for the Mississauga centre, which is run by the provincial government, “alarming.”
“We’re talking lives here,” said Halton regional chair Gary Carr. “We need to get this fixed quickly and not get the bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo you get from the province.”
In an e-mail, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care spokesperson Andrew Morrison attributed the Mississauga centre’s performance to a November flood in its building that forced employees to move to Hamilton, where they remain, and a high volume of cellphone calls, which take longer to dispatch.
Morrison said Mississauga’s 2008 performance reflected “a number of unique situations ... It is inaccurate to assume from this snapshot that the quality of dispatching at this centre is somehow sub-standard.”
However, he did not cite any unique problems other than the flooding, which occurred more than 44 weeks into the 48-week January-to-November period over which the province gathered data.
A further investigation is pending.