By: Greg Staley
Written On: 2021-10-08
Will there be an ambulance available when you call 911? Actions have consequences and in the case of the union that represents the paramedics of Windsor-Essex, the decision to place 18 qualified paramedics on unpaid leave due to their COVID vaccination status has brought on a great deal of concern about paramedics ability to reach residents who call 911 in need of an ambulance.
On October 5th, the union took to Twitter to tell Windsor-Essex residents that the community is being placed at risk due to a “one size fits all” policy that lack rational application.
We asked CUPE 2974, the union representing the Paramedics, EMS logistics and support staff of Windsor-Essex how bad the shortage of paramedics was before 18 members were placed on unpaid leave due to not being vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine – the picture they painted for us wasn’t a pretty one.
The representative for CUPE 2974 told Diverge Media that although they don’t have the data on overall response times “they were already trending upwards” before Windsor EMS decided to place 18 trained and qualified paramedics on unpaid leave.
The union told Diverge that in May their “employer removed 3 trucks off the road on midnight shifts,” a move they say “immediately resulted in a significant increase in paramedic burnout due to increased workload” and the lack of ability to take “necessary breaks.” The union says that “this burnout lead to increased sick time, increased overtime demand, a decrease of willingness to work nights or to work overtime” which in turn “lead to the further reductions of trucks due to down staffing” as no staff were available to staff the trucks.
The union pointed out that all of this happened after the reduction of just 3 trucks and this was only on nights. The rep for CUPE 2974 said this is the equivalent of losing 6 paramedics per shift. “Now, we are losing 18 medics from our schedule.”
As a result of these 18 paramedics being placed on unpaid leave the union said that they “anticipate the already existent burnout to dramatically spike.” The most terrifying aspect of the unions comments to Diverge Media were that previous issues of down staffing “resulted in many, many code blacks.” This is when there is zero available ambulances to respond to an emergency. They expect that these lay offs will result in an increase of these occurrences.
Imagine calling an ambulance for your dying or injured loved one who desperately needs to be taken to a hospital only to find out that there is none available because they decided to put 18 qualified paramedics on unpaid leave due to their vaccination status. The same people that were touted as heroes last year are now not good enough to provide life saving emergency services to your loved one!
The union says that they fully support and appreciate vaccination efforts however they “feel it necessary to get through this by respecting the views of all and trying to reach resolutions rather than implementation through coercive force.”
We have reached out to Essex-Windsor EMS for comment but did not receive a response in time for this article.
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