Northwest Regional Base Hospital Program

What’s the Role of the Northwest Regional Base Hospital Program at the Health Sciences Centre?

Everyone knows to call 911 for an ambulance in the case of a medical emergency. Paramedics from your local emergency medical services (EMS) arrive in minutes to provide pre-hospital medical care and transport you to the Health Sciences Centre or local hospital.

What people don’t know is that Ontario EMS and Base Hospitals work in collaboration to ensure safe quality pre-hospital patient care is provided to the patient. EMS is not technically part of the community hospital and Base Hospital is not technically part of your local EMS; we are separate agencies overseeing different aspects of the paramedics’ roles and responsibilities.

Paramedics are employed by local/regional EMS providers. Paramedics must also report to their Regional Base Hospital Program for certification. Certification is a process whereby paramedics are required to complete education, training, or assessment, to ensure adequate knowledge, judgment and skill in advanced life support (ALS) patient care skill sets, medical directives, and controlled acts. For example in the City of Thunder Bay, paramedics work for Superior North EMS though they report to the Northwest Region Base Hospital Program for new skills training, education, and initial or annual certification testing. Many aspects of ALS patient care are defined as delegated medical acts (DMA) which are controlled acts delegated to paramedics by the Program Medical Director or by designated Base Hospital Patch Physicians. For example, NW region paramedics have received training and certification in several controlled acts such as intramuscular (IM) injection, manual defibrillation, advanced airway control, IV initiation, and medication administration. Base Hospital Program also offers guidance and support to paramedics and function in an advisory capacity to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC) on matters relating to ambulance based prehospital emergency care.

The designated Base Hospital Patch Physicians in Northwestern Ontario are Emergency Physicians located at the Health Sciences Centre Emergency Department. Paramedics perform delegated medical acts under what is called a “medical directive” and at times may be in contact with the Base Hospital Physician to report the patient’s condition and receive medical direction or guidance while delivering pre-hospital emergency patient care.

The Northwest Region Base Hospital Program, one of eight such programs in Ontario, is the link between the Health Sciences Centre and the EMS providers. The Base Hospital Program is responsible for certifying the approximately 375 paramedics across Northwestern Ontario, and for providing ongoing training, education, and quality management. We help ensure patients in the region receive safe, quality patient care and that paramedics uphold provincial standards.

The Northwest Region Base Hospital Program ensure citizens in Northwestern Ontario receive safe, quality patient care by land ambulance paramedics and uphold provincial standards as directed by the Emergency Health Services Branch, Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.