COVID-19 pandemic still presenting challenges for Essex-Windsor EMS 

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While lockdowns are over and things are slowly getting back to normal, Essex-Windsor EMS is still dealing with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

That's according to Chief Bruce Krauter, who provided an update to Essex County Council Wednesday night and says EMS staff remain dedicated to keeping the public safe and service levels have not been impacted.

He says resources are spread thin as call volumes continue to increase and hospitals work through surgery backlogs.

"Since 2020, the health care system was shut down as well. And now we're still addressing the collateral damage of COVID such as healthcare backlogs, decreased capacity within hospitals and other anomalies or pressures not experienced in the early waves."

Shared resources have helped get over the hump, according to Krauter.

"We utilize our local fire departments under the tiered response agreement. I want to reassure people that when it becomes a life and death situation, we have an emergency service that is going to be there within minutes to respond to it. I predict that as we move through COVID, this is going to get very much improved."

He says agencies across the province are facing the same problems.

"This isn't just an Essex-Windsor EMS problem. Just as an example, this past week, Chatham-Kent experienced issues where we had to, for about 25 minutes, place an ambulance in Tilbury to cover off part of Chatham-Kent. Why did we do that? We had the resources available."

Krauter says problems with staffing have been an issue, but 14 new paramedics were recently hired and there's plans for more recruiting in the future.

Call volumes have been on a steady increase going up about 3 per cent each year over the past five years.