Ambulance wait times in the Dryden community are expected to improve after the Kenora District Services Board added six new Primary Care Paramedics to their staff last week.

The Kenora District Services Board says the new Northwest EMS crew consists of two additional crew members on-shift daily between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., helping to address a recent increase in demand for EMS services in the region.

In the Dryden community, the KDSB says emergency call volumes have increased by 31 per cent compared to the same time frame in 2021. Last year was also a busy one for local paramedics, as Dryden saw a 25 per cent increase in calls. That’s above the region’s average increase of 19 per cent between 2019 and 2021.

“We closely monitor changes to call volume in each of the communities we serve,” says the KDSB’s Chief Administrative Officer, Henry Wall. “By allocating additional resources in Dryden, we can better meet the demand for EMS services during peak hours in the area.”

Earlier this week, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 5911 Union with Northwest EMS called on the province for more support and resources, as staff warned of a ‘major crisis of care’ in the Kenora district due to staff burnout and shortages.

CUPE says ambulance wait times can be upwards of two hours in the area, and too often, care is delayed due to staffing shortages, high call volumes and a limited number of ambulances available to communities.