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Hospital patients redirected from Guelph to Fergus briefly put GW paramedics into Code Red

For 10 minutes on Monday, no local ambulance was available for an emergency call if one had come in
20180710 Guelph Paramedics KA 08
Paramedic supervisor Joe Draper calls dispatch on a direct line from the ambulance bay of Guelph General Hospital. Kenneth Armstrong/GuelphToday file photo

A busy afternoon at Guelph General Hospital (GGH) Monday ended with the some patients being diverted to Groves hospital in Fergus.

This also tied up Guelph-Wellington Paremedic Service enough to briefly put them into a code red — meaning there was no GW ambulance available to respond to emergency calls.

GW Paramedic chief Stephen Dewar confirmed this in a phone interview, explaining five ambulances being held in the emergency department at GGH. 

He explained they were working with the hospital staff to get them to accept patients to free up their resources.

“As part of that process they also identified they couldn’t accept any more patients and asked us to divert,” Dewar said. “We were taking patients from the City of Guelph, non-life threatening conditions, and transporting to Fergus. Our protocol allows us to transport on their request if they can’t accept any more patients.”

GGH spokesperson Perry Hagerman also confirmed this ambulance redirect in a statement where he said the emergency department was “extremely busy.”

“During ambulance bypass, EMS assesses the patient and transports the patient to another hospital if the patient is stable to transport,” Hagerman said. “Patients who are unstable would still be taken to the closest emergency department.”

Dewar said this extra transport time and having ambulances tied up at GGH strained them in the afternoon and for a 10 minute period they had nobody local available to respond. 

Dewar clarified an ambulance will be dispatched, but coming from the closest region such as Halton, Waterloo or Hamilton. However, Dewar said they aren’t aware of any emergency calls during that brief window. 

“We know going into bypass puts additional pressure on local ambulance services and on patients and their families expecting to be cared for at GGH,” Hagerman said, adding this rarely used move was necessary at the time. 

“Any patient taken to Groves and admitted there will be transferred back to GGH if desired when a bed becomes available here.”

Dewar said Monday was a tough day for the service but the paramedics worked diligently to get through it.


Keegan Kozolanka

About the Author: Keegan Kozolanka

Keegan Kozolanka is a general assignment reporter for Elora, Fergus and rural Centre Wellington.
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