The District of Muskoka will replace its paramedic station in Port Carling by the end of next year.
It will move to a district-owned Glen Orchard Public Works Yard property.
“The Port Carling station is a leased station, the only leased station we have in the district, as far as Paramedic Services facilities go, and it is in need of repair and replacement,” says Jeff McWilliam, Muskoka’s Chief of Paramedic Services and Emergency Management.
According to McWilliam, the Glen Orchard property is currently used for road salt storage. He says the move will allow them to design and build a new facility more suited for the times.
“With the evolution of Paramedic Services over the years, a purpose-built station is certainly what we need,” says McWilliam. “This would allow us to not only own the facility, but would certainly maximize our potential in that area should we move forward with any expanded services.”
It’s one of the medium-term recommendations from consulting firm Operational Research in Health in 2017, to optimize Muskoka Paramedic Services over the next decade.
West Muskoka is currently serviced by the Port Carling station, which has an ambulance on standby 24 hours a day, and a 12-hour daytime ambulance in MacTier.
According to the firm’s report, a move to the new facility would increase the area covered by a response time of eight to 14 minutes by about four per cent in Georgian Bay, and about two per cent in Muskoka Lakes.
It would also save the district about $52,000 per year in lease and upkeep costs from the existing location.
McWilliam says it’s an opportunity to look to the future of the area.
“To make it purpose-built, you have to look at the activity, not only operationally, but what are some of the things we do proactively in Paramedic Services,” says McWilliam. “Things such as our Community Paramedicine Program, and is there opportunity to expand that program more so into the west part of Muskoka. I believe there is.”
That program received provincial funding late last year, and should be up for renewal this month.
According to McWilliam, a design committee for the new building should be formed by mid-April. $2,643,700 has been set aside for the construction, which is expected to finish in late 2023. As the existing facility’s lease expires in February, district staff are working with the landlord to bridge the gap.