West Island ambulance response times higher than other areas in Montreal

Urgences Santé ambulance at the garage. Feb. 26, 2024. Gloria Henriquez / Global News

Numbers shared by Urgences Santé show that response times in the West Island are higher than in other areas.

If you live in Beaconsfield or Baie D’Urfé, it might take 15 minutes and eight seconds to see an ambulance show up.

It takes an ambulance an average of 14 minutes and seven seconds to show up in Kirkland, compared with Westmount, which can see an ambulance in nine minutes and nine seconds.

In Montreal, the average time is 10 minutes and 8 seconds.

Some experts argue the ideal response time is under eight minutes.

“Fifteen minutes is far too late. You got the time to die twice before you’re getting on board,” Kirkland Mayor Michel Gibson said.

Gibson says he’s worried about his residents’ safety.

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“We don’t want to be second citizens. We want some ambulances here, in place on standby,” Gibson said.

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Some paramedics who work in the system are frustrated too.

“In Montreal, it’s chaos, basically,” said Mathieu Lacombe, a paramedic and vice-president of the Montérégie Paramedics Union, CSN. “They don’t have enough people to staff the ambulance, they don’t have enough ambulances and they have so many calls.”

Lacombe says they have no other choice sometimes than to dispatch ambulances from Valleyfield or Vaudreuil to the West Island.

“When you take that ambulance away from Valleyfield and Vaudreuil-Dorion, there is one less in this area that’s already in trouble for not having enough ambulances.”

Urgences Santé admits there are fewer ambulances available for the West Island, but says the picture isn’t as grim. Jean Mari Dufresne, a supervisor at Urgences Santé, was intent on reassuring the public they are safe.

“I see no reason to be scared,” Dufresne said. “We do count on first responders with the fire department and we also count on rapid intervention vehicles that do proceed to the cause rapidly.”

Dufresne said first responders, who are equipped to perform urgent care, can show up within 10 minutes.

For example, someone in cardiac arrest could have firefighters perform defibrillation measures while waiting for paramedics. The average response time for first responders to arrive to a location in Kirkland is 8.3 minutes, according to Urgences Santé, while it’s 7.6 minutes in Montreal.

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In a statement to Global News, Quebec’s Ministry of Health says each region is responsible for assessing its needs and letting them know so that they can make adjustments.

The ministry added it invested $32 million in 2022 to improve coverage in several regions and has also concluded a new agreement with ambulance companies.

Its new action plan to improve pre-hospital services will be presented in the coming days.


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