County wants to retain ambulance station in Brussels
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Huron County Council is recommending that the county either build a new paramedic base in Brussels or construct an addition to the Brussels Fire Hall as an ambulance base.
Council discussed the issue at its Dec. 16 meeting, voting in favour of the recommendation of Chief of Emergency Services Jeff Horseman.
Horseman was charged with further investigating the situation in Brussels, which has changed drastically as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the virus made its way to the area, paramedics and an ambulance were stationed at Huronlea Home for the Aged, using some of the home’s facilities as needed.
However, with the pandemic, the two high-risk populations (senior citizens and paramedics) could not be in close contact with one another and, as the pandemic has worn on, a permanent solution is needed in order to maintain a paramedic presence in Brussels.
Horseman said his report considered all options, including removing the ambulance from Brussels altogether, pulling it out of circulation and laying off the paramedics, which was not his recommendation.
He said removing the station entirely would result in a 2.6 per cent drop in the county’s Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) number one performance, a response time of eight minutes, and a 2.7 per cent drop in the CTAS number two response time of 17 minutes. The county aims for a CTAS 1 response rate of 40 per cent and a CTAS 2 response rate of 46 per cent and removal of the Brussels ambulance post would cause both to drop.
He also said the response time would likely continue to decrease as the year-over-year call volume increases, which is what has been projected.
If the Brussels station was to be removed, the options would then be for ambulances to be dispatched from either Wingham or Seaforth, both of which would result in longer response times.
Horseman told council he was not in favour of either of these options and councillors agreed, saying an ambulance station should remain in Brussels.
Horseman told council that if it were to consider building a new ambulance station in Brussels, two locations could be considered. One would be beside the fire hall and the second would be the back corner of the Huronlea property. Horseman said the Huronlea site would present a number of problems and that the fire hall-adjacent site would be preferable.
How council would proceed, Horseman said, would affect the construction of the new Seaforth ambulance base in the future. If a proper one-bay base is built in Brussels, then it’s possible the Seaforth base could be reduced in size as a result.
Huron East Mayor Bernie MacLellan said it was possible that Brussels could see a major expansion in the next three to five years, so maintaining a paramedic presence in the village would be important. In addition, he said the county might want to consider expanding the paramedic presence in Brussels at that time, so that should be considered if and when the county builds a new station.
Council voted to receive Horseman’s report and to follow up on the two options (expanding the Brussels Fire Hall or building a new station) with Huron East and co-owner of the Brussels Fire Department, Morris-Turnberry.