Providers need to work together

Perhaps it was just a quaint notion after all.

Around the year 2000 we wandered past a neat little operation housing ambulance, fire and the local constabulary in Mexico. The building was okay and the equipment seemed a bit old compared to home, but the concept of emergency service people working together made sense to us.

The timing was interesting given that Wellington was still in the throes of analyzing needs for emergency service upgrades. It seemed like a good idea to bring home.

Amalgamation and downloading from the province triggered Wellington establishing its own police contract with the OPP and consenting to the City of Guelph handling court and ambulance service. Now, closing in on 20 years since these significant changes took place, the county has revamped all of its OPP buildings. It only stands to reason that ambulance services have a similar review and critical scrutiny.

What came back in the form of a study seemed to catch councillors off guard, particularly those who had spent time at the township level promoting multi-use options for fire and ambulance. Sharing a bay – and all the costs that go along with operating a facility – felt like  a good use of resources. Alas, common sense and hopes for teamwork appear to be in jeopardy.

Before that die is cast, council has bought some time by only accepting in principle a recent ambulance station report. As advised by their CAO Scott Wilson, councillors and especially mayors need to catch up with their fire chiefs and see how current operations are working.

Perhaps there are issues, as suggested. But, if it’s a case of emergency service providers wanting their own playhouse, council needs to lay the law down. If they don’t the public will.

Having some intimate knowledge of the Rockwood fire hall and its establishment, it was overbuilt to accommodate an ambulance bay and office. Senior ambulance personnel at the time had input on that move. Although implementation of the bay was bogged down for a relatively short period of time, the ambulance eventually settled in, giving attendants a chance to get out of the elements.

Hearing suggestions today that the space isn’t good enough – actually “poor” – does a disservice to the investment made by township residents years ago. But to complain for a moment that full kitchen facilities aren’t readily accessible and inconvenient as part of a justification to spend $1.5 million on a new location has to be the most ridiculous statement uttered at a county council meeting in the last 20 years.

Think about that for a moment and understand why residents, who often take a lunch to work and heat it up in a microwave rather than demand facilities to prepare a three course meal, begrudge improvement to capital facilities. They see it as wasteful.

Similar contempt played out regarding other locations in the county where conditions aren’t optimal – as in, sole use for the ambulance provider. Townships made best efforts and worked with the ambulance service to address their needs. How quickly tunes change.

Sensible solutions to legitimate response time concerns and better care for residents has to be at the forefront of this discussion. As this process takes place and the future unfolds, we hope suitable time is spent encouraging these emergency services to work together and share resources where they can.