TORSTAR NEWS SERVICE
November 28, 2008 12:08
A pilot project that stationed a paramedic at the Bloor subway station on weekdays has reduced rush-hour train delays, delivered faster care to sick riders and persuaded the TTC to continue the program next year.
Ill passengers are the leading cause of delays on weekday rush hours, accounting for more than 49 hours of lost service last year.
Paramedics from Toronto Emergency Medical Services on hand at the station during the morning and afternoon rush hours have been able to respond to 70 per cent of all subway passenger illness and injury calls since the pilot began. The hope is to increase that to 95 per cent, said Paul Raftis, manager of EMS operations.
“The trains are running on about a two-minute cycle. For us to get from a surface route down into the TTC, it could take us eight, nine, 10 minutes to get right down to the train. With a TTC paramedic on the scene, it may only take them two minutes to get there. So you’re saving in some cases six or eight minutes,” he said.
An eight-minute delay on the Yonge line at rush hour is the equivalent of four trainloads, each carrying about 1,300 people.
It’s not clear whether another team will be added in the future.
The number of calls a single paramedic and TTC supervisor handle is “extraordinary,” said TTC chair Adam Giambrone.
“I thought we’d need four or five teams to cover the system, but apparently that’s not the case. What that tells us is the (emergency) calls are concentrated in the downtown and they’re concentrated in rush hour.”
The 2009 TTC budget will cover the $150,000 cost of the program, Giambrone said.