Changes are coming to the way fire departments in Windsor-Essex respond to medical calls.
Firefighters will no longer respond to medical calls at places like long-term care homes, hospitals, doctors' offices, and community centres to relieve pressure on firefighters.
Essex-Windsor EMS Chief Bruce Krauter says medical calls are increasing and are taking a toll on fire departments and their budgets.
"We found that the frequency was increasing and the fire departments were not doing any medical interventions, they were just being called out. The pressures to the fire departments were increasing and [there was] more cost and impact to the municipalities," says Krauter.
The old agreement was put in place 24 years ago to respond quicker to cardiac arrests with defibrillators because of the strategic location of fire stations.
Krauter says the new model should begin in two to three weeks.
Krauter says fire response is unnecessary for medical calls at hospitals and doctors' offices because there's already a medical professional on site.
"The fire departments were going to more and more long-term care facilities or health care facilities or doctors' offices where there was a higher medical authority to provide care prior to EMS, and it just wasn't needed," the chief says.
Krauter says firefighters will now only respond to life or death medical calls when there are just two ambulances or less in the affected area.
"The amended medical tiered response agreement will maintain an excellent service for fire services provided across the region while maintaining their local services in an effective, efficient and sustainable manner," Krauter says.