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Code Red: Off-load delays leave Waterloo Region without available ambulances

Ambulances waiting to offload patients at St. Mary's General Hospital in Kitchener on Nov. 1, 2023. (X: @CUPE519EMS) Ambulances waiting to offload patients at St. Mary's General Hospital in Kitchener on Nov. 1, 2023. (X: @CUPE519EMS)
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The union representing Waterloo Region’s paramedics say they are facing a crisis that can no longer be ignored.

CUPE 5191 says they went into "code red" several times throughout the day Wednesday.

In the morning, there were 12 ambulances waiting to offload patients at Cambridge Memorial Hospital.

CUPE Vice-President Dave Bryant tells CTV News at least one ambulance had been there for 15 hours.

Also that day, an off-load delay at St. Mary’s General Hospital in Kitchener resulted in 10 ambulances waiting.

When ambulances are waiting to off-load patients, they cannot respond to any other calls that come in.

When there are no ambulances available, this results in a "code red," and ambulances from neighbouring regions will help respond to calls.

Bryant says they had paramedic services from four neighbouring communities coming to help during a code red Saturday night.

He adds that it’s a combination of high call volumes and shortages in staffing and beds at hospitals – something they’ve long been asking provincial and regional political leaders to take note of and fix.

Bryant says that, unfortunately, this is becoming the new normal.

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