Who and What is Hastings-Quinte Emergency Medical Services (EMS)?
Hastings County has been the provider of all prehospital emergency medical service (ambulance services) since January 1st, 2003. There are 5 separate base locations placed strategically throughout Hastings County in Bancroft, Madoc, Quinte West (Trenton), and 2 stations in Belleville. A post operated in Tweed is also staffed 12 hours per day. Since January 1st 2004, Hastings-Quinte EMS was also selected to provide all ambulance services for Prince Edward County to the south, and has a station in Picton.
Mutually cooperative agreements also exist with EMS agencies in neighboring Counties. Hastings-Quinte Emergency Medical Services is comprised of a team of approximately 150 well qualified professionals committed to achieving and delivering the highest medical standards. By responding to emergencies in a coordinated and efficient manner, the people of Hastings Quinte Region can be confident in the quality of patient care provided. Each year, HQ-EMS will respond to between 24,000 and 27,000 calls for assistance.
Do Paramedics and Firefighters do the same thing?
No. Paramedics are specifically trained in the provision of emergency medical care and have limited training in rescue activities. Firefighters are trained in fire suppression, hazardous materials response and rescue work and have limited emergency medical training. Paramedics and firefighters work very closely with one and other and have a cooperative working relationship, but are also distinct from each other. A 911 call for a medical emergency will often result in an emergency response from more than one agency, as the goal is to get as much emergency help to a call as quickly as possible.
Our main focus is the delivery of emergency services. We staff a large fleet of ambulances and Paramedic Rapid Response Units to support that mandate. H-Q EMS has 6 stations. Each station has a standard availability of amenities including TVs, VCRs, coffee makers, microwaves, etc. We also have a small bedroom and relaxation area at each base to rest between calls. There is a fax and computer with Internet access in every station. The demographics of our two counties are such that throughout your career you will have opportunity to experience it all; high and low density urban areas, cottage country, and rural and remote, with a population over 140,000.
Our service area is conveniently located along Highway 401 between the Greater Toronto area and Kingston, Ontario, North along highway 62 to Bancroft and Algonquin Park, and South into Prince Edward County and the famous Sandbanks Provincial Park.
The Primary Care Paramedic
The Primary Care Paramedic (PCP) is a community college graduate of a two-year Paramedic Program and has obtained provincial EMCA certification. Education includes comprehensive courses in anatomy and physiology, emergency patient care, and pharmacology. The function of a Primary Care Paramedic is to provide emergency patient care, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), patient immobilization, oxygen therapy, basic trauma life support, blood glucose testing, and non-emergency patient care and transportation. The majority of Paramedics are certified at this level
The Primary Care Paramedic is certified to perform the following skills:
- Provide high quality basic medical and traumatic life support skills
- Insertion of the King Supraglottic Airway (to open a breathing passage)
- Operate a semi-automatic external defibrillator (electrical stimulation of a heart that has stopped beating) and interpret common cardiac rhythms
- Provide blood glucometry (testing blood sugar levels)
- Administer the following drugs under Standing Orders:
- ASA (For heart related emergencies)
- Epinephrine (for allergic reactions and severe croup in children)
- Glucagon (for diabetic emergencies)
- Nitroglycerin (For heart related emergencies)
- Salbutamol (Ventolin for shortness of breath)
Additionally, some of our Primary Care Paramedics may be certified in one or more (but not all) advanced skills, such as initiation of IV therapy.
The Advanced Care Paramedic
The Advanced Care Paramedic (ACP) has extensive field experience and must successfully complete approximately one full year of post-secondary education in addition to the two-year PCP Program.
The function of an Advanced Care Paramedic includes all the responsibilities of a PCP and is further enhanced with an additional year of education and training. Advanced Care Paramedics, as much as possible, are sent to the most serious life-threatening emergencies.
- Perform IV access, fluid administration and advanced trauma life support skills
- Perform surgical cricothyrotomy
- Perform needle thoracotomy
- Perform endotracheal intubation (oral, nasal, blind or facilitated by Bougie)
- Provide direct laryngoscopy and foreign object removal using Magill forceps
- Perform pulse oximetery and end-tidal CO2 monitoring
- Provide 12 lead ECG interpretation
- Provide manual defibrillation, synchronized cardioversion and external trancutaneous pacing
- Administer a wide range of drugs including: Adenosine, ASA, Atropine, Diazepam, Dimenhydrinate (Gravol), Diphenhydramine (Benadryl), Dopamine, IV epinephrine, Fentanyl, Furosemide, Glucagon, IV Glucose, Lidocaine, Midazolam, Morphine, Nitroglycerin, Salbutamol, and Sodium Bicarbonate.
- In 2006 H-Q EMS received a total of 24,778 calls.
- Total call volumes since 2003 have consistently been above 22,000 calls a year with a trend of decreasing low priority calls (Code 1 and Code 2), and increasing emergency call volume (Code 3 and Code 4). Total call volume for 2009 is expected to be between 24,000 and 27,000 calls.
- H-Q EMS, in partnership with the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario and the lower tier municipalities of Hastings County championed the cause of promoting Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) Programs across Hastings County. By the end of 2008, nearly 70 such public access defibrillator units had been distributed throughout public buildings.
- H-Q EMShas been one of the leading services for successful cardiac resuscitation in Southeastern Ontario.
- Since 2004, The County of Hastings has regularly sent or otherwise supported Primary Care Paramedics in going to Durham College to obtain advanced qualifications.
- Combining staff training and external recruitment of ACPs, in 2003, the service had fewer than 10 full or part-time Advanced Care Paramedics. By summer of 2009, this number will have reached more than 35.