The Region’s Chief of Emergency Medical Services is offering his opinion on Health Minister Deb Matthews emergency response pilot program.

John Prno said it’s a good start, but could be taken further, “All this provincial pilot does, is it shares information between EMS and Fire in a more timely fashion.”

Currently when a medical call comes into 911, Police downstream it to the ambulance dispatch centre. EMS then determines if fire crews are needed as well. Then Fire dispatch is manually contacted.

“This new pilot project electronically transfers that information between (EMS and Fire), so it automatically determines that the call meets the tiered response criteria, and then sends it to the Fire department.”

Prno said it wont do anything to improve ambulance response times, but could save fire crews 30 seconds to one minute in getting to the scene.

A consolidated system the region has been pushing for could shave off even more, “It’s a start, but it’s not the be-all and end-all.”

Prno says if Police, Fire, and Ambulance all received the same information at the same time, it could eliminate confusion between the responders, like what happened last fall when crews were responding to the Region of Waterloo International Airport for a fatal helicopter crash, “Basically we had some responders that had information, and other responders that didn’t, and we need to be able to share that (information) more readily among all the responding agencies.”

Matthews pilot program will tested in four communities, including Waterloo Region and Guelph.