Historic agreement for Rapides-des-Joachims Inter-provincial ambulance “headache” resolved

Added: Wed, 07/19/2017 - 11:06pm
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Allyson Beauregard

RAPIDES-DES-JOACHIMS – A historic agreement was made at the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) office in Campbell's Bay, June 19, when representatives from the SQ and the Quebec and Ontario coroner's offices ended a decades old problem concerning ambulances responding to 911 calls involving a deceased person.
Rapides-des-Joachims borders Ontario, 153 km away from the MRC Pontiac SQ station. The municipality receives ambulance, fire department, electricity and telephone services from Ontario, but its police and conservation authorities are mandated through Quebec. 
For over three decades, when ambulances and police responded to 911 calls involving a non-suspicious death, it involved an inter-provincial dispute. Ontario paramedics would phone a coroner in Ontario to pronounce the person dead, but, in order to be transported to a funeral home the person also had to be legally pronounced dead at a Quebec hospital. This requirement meant that Ontario ambulances were unable to do a transfer given that the deceased had not been pronounced legally dead by a coroner in Quebec.
Quebec ambulances could do the transport, but with the closest in L'Isle-aux-Allumettes, it meant extended travel leaving the area without ambulance service.  According to Sergeant Yves Martineau from the Campbell's Bay SQ office, this inter-provincial 'head-ache' often resulted in bodies being left on the scene for an extended time.
Martineau was instrumental in creating the agreement between the two provinces that eliminates the need for deceased bodies to be transported to a Quebec medical institution. Quebec coroners can now legally pronounce someone dead by phoning the Ontario coroner first contacted by paramedics and noting the appropriate details. The body can then be transported directly to a funeral home. “It saves time, money, and allows the body and the family to be treated with dignity and respect,” said Marc Tessier, SQ Spokesperson.   
According to Martineau, this inter-provincial coroners’ agreement is the first in Quebec and applies only to Rapides-des-Joachims.