Ornge to build new land ambulance base in Hamilton

Ornge critical care has revealed the building of a land ambulance base on Upper James Street in Hamilton, Ont. ORNGE

The agency known by many for providing air ambulance service across Ontario says it will soon open a critical care land ambulance base in Hamilton, Ont., to support transfers of critically ill patients across the Golden Horseshoe.

The new Hamilton base will be a three-bay garage on Upper James Street, just south of Rymal Road East, that will operate 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

Wade Durham, chief operating officer of paramedicine with Ornge, says patient transfers between health facilities are actually what the outlet is really known for doing, transporting very sick patients that need high levels of care between hospitals.

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“When people see Ornge or think of Ornge they think of the helicopter coming in to land on scenes at highway accidents, but that’s only a small portion of our call volume,” Durham explained.

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In recent times, Ornge has transported some 20,000 patients annually with less than 10 per cent transported from the scene of injury.

Over 90 per cent are typically inter-facility transfers using a fleet that consists of some 12 helicopters, eight airplanes, and 14 land ambulances.

Land ambulances are predominately used for patients moving between health facilities with critical care paramedics maintaining intensive care unit (ICU) levels of care during transport.

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“The intent of the critical care line ambulance is to transport those patients between facilities and not require … nurses, physicians and respiratory therapists to go with the patient between facilities,” Durham said.

Durham says a paramedic with Ornge has around two years more training than a typical primary care paramedic who has between two to three years of instruction.

“Those that wish to continue on to the critical care level would come to Ornge and we would run them through a full critical care program, which is about an additional 18 months of intense training,” Durham said.

The outlet already has 12 bases located in 11 centres across the province with a team of around 650 front-line and supporting staff.

Durham says construction starts July 10, beginning with the main building, then continuing with the garage.

The estimated completion date is mid-August with services expected to be up and running Sept. 1.


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