Kanehsatake still covered by rental ambulances until next week: Bonspiel

By Marc Lalonde

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Kanehsatake will continue to be covered by a rental ambulance until a Plan B ambulance, which will be delivered today and on the road by this time next week, and a change in how shifts are run for paramedics will even further ensure better protection for community members, the director of the organization responsible for its protection said earlier this week.

“We should be getting the ambulance today, and it will take about a week to get it on the road. We have to set up the GPS, we have to set up the proper radios and the proper equipment,” said the director of First Nations Paramedics Robert Bonspiel. “We expect to get our original ambulance (which was damaged in a lateral collision when returning from the Saint-Eustache hospital on April

30) back in a couple of weeks as well, in that case, we would in fact have two ambulances serving the community.”

Additionally, Bonspiel said, he hopes to be able to get funding to allow a shift in scheduling for his paramedics. At present, paramedics must be on call 24 hours a day for a week, with a week off in between.

“So, if a call comes in in the middle of the night, the paramedic has to get up out of bed, get dressed and get in their personal vehicle and go down to the ambulance and head off to the call,” Bonspiel said.

If the scheduling change becomes a reality for his paramedics, they will be able to spend their time at the ambulance office, or in the ambulance, instead of being on call at their homes.”

The difference?

Could be a matter of life and death, Bonspiel said.

“We’re talking a difference of at least 10 minutes, maybe more, in response time,” Bonspiel said. “If you get a call for a cardiac arrest, those extra minutes could absolutely mean the difference between life and death. Those few extra minutes could be enough to revive someone in that situation. That’s a big deal.”

That’s not a reality faced by Kanehsatake’s neighbours, either.

Nearby municipalities are not in a situation where paramedics must come from home in the middle of the night.

“Oka, Saint-Joseph-du-Lac, that’s not something they have to deal with and it feels like the gap in response times is incredibly discriminatory. That extra time is only something that we have to deal with here in Kanehsatake,” Bonspiel added.

Bonspiel said his only interest is protecting the people in his community.

“The difference in those few minutes could help us avoid catastrophe. That’s all we want,” he said.

 Marc Lalonde  is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the  IORI:WASE. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

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