There will not be a change in EMS service levels.

That is the word of Muskoka Emergency Medical Services Chief Jeff McWilliam, following the announcement from the Ontario government that 59 EMS departments are going to be merged into just 10 regional services.

Muskoka EMS Chief Jeff McWilliam (Doug Crosse Photo)

He says it is too early to tell what that will look like, but for Muskoka residents, it will be business as usual.

“What I want to get across is the great medics that do their job are going to continue to do that great work out there and continue to be those professionals,” said McWilliam.

The Chief belongs to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and he says no one has been consulted yet on what this move will look like.

“I can tell you that the announcement came as a surprise as it did to the rest of the province,” says McWilliam. “I am part of the Ontario Paramedic Chiefs and we’ve been asked to be a stakeholder and be engaged in some of those conversations.”

He said there has been little information put forth other than looking at dispatch technology and possible streamlining in that area. McWilliam says each area has its own unique challenges, pointing to the wait times for offloading patients crews in Toronto endure compared to Muskoka.

“Response geography is always a challenge and with our water access, very unique,” he offers.

McWilliam says until they know more about what is being proposed it is too early to comment beyond saying the service on the ground will not change.

One of the more unique aspects of Muskoka is the population increase in the summer, mostly centred in hard to reach cottage properties. This requires local knowledge by a dispatcher and calls can take some time to be answered with the vast areas covered by Muskoka EMS.

Extra crews and equipment are brought in for the summer season.