August 12, 2017 1:57 pm
Updated: August 12, 2017 2:06 pm

‘Public safety at risk’ with city’s new scheduling system: Toronto paramedic

A Toronto paramedic is concerned about "glitches" with new city software, which he claims is delaying emergency response times.

Don Mitchell/AM640
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A Toronto paramedic says recent “glitches” with a new software scheduler for city crews is putting “public safety at risk.”

Mike Merriman, who has been an emergency care worker for the past 26 years, told AM 640’s Kelly Cutrara that paramedics have “grave concerns” about a new multi-million-dollar test system which taps into their dispatch centre.

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Merriman says one recent incident with the scheduler weighs heavy on a few paramedics who discovered the new software sent a basic crew to a cardiac arrest call while a more equipped advanced life support team was available nearby.

 

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He says the response time was nine minutes for that crew — a six-minute difference compared to the awaiting advanced team, which was around three minutes away.

READ MORE: New Ontario ambulance system aims to better prioritize calls

“This crew was roughly three minutes away from this cardiac arrest, but because this computer glitched, nobody knew they were in the station,” Merriman said.

 “Every minute a person is down, their chances of surviving decrease exponentially.”

The new system is handled by workforce management company Kronos Inc., which supplies scheduling and payroll software for retailers, manufacturers and healthcare.

The company, which boasts services that manage over 40 million workers worldwide, including some from Staples and Calgary’s Emergency Medical Services, were awarded a multi-million-dollar contract to provide work scheduling for several city divisions.

READ MORE: Driver injured after Toronto EMS truck smashes into hydro pole

Kim McKinnon, a spokesperson for Toronto Paramedic Services,  told AM 640 that the February rollout is a city-wide initiative, with Toronto Paramedics being one of two city divisions involved in an ongoing test launch.

McKinnon says while some of the implementation has been complex, none of the startup has “negatively impacted public safety.”

“Toronto Paramedic Services is in the first year of the new system and, as to be anticipated with any new system, there are startup issues to be addressed,” she says.

The city has acknowledged that an external assessment is ongoing to evaluate the risks of using the system for Toronto Paramedic Services.

Officials say they are working closely with the software supplier, solutions integrator and the city’s project team to resolve any technical issues.

 

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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