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All paramedic services near a body of water find themselves being called for marine or water-related emergencies, and to provide medical coverage for water-related events. With a large harbourfront area, Toronto Paramedic Services is presented with these types of situations on a regular basis.

The Toronto Police Marine Unit provides lifeguard services for all Toronto beaches. These lifeguards are frequently first responders and assist Toronto Paramedic Services. Toronto Fire Services with the William Lyon Mackenzie fire boat also respond to marine emergencies.

The amount of marine traffic and related medical emergencies has steadily increased over the years due to the popularity and expansion of Toronto’s harborfront. A need was recognized for more diverse coverage along Toronto’s waterways and a partnership with the Toronto Police Services Marine Unit was developed. Subsequent meetings and review of current protocols lead to the creation of the Toronto Paramedic Services Marine Unit.

The Toronto Paramedic Services Marine Unit was established in the spring of 1999 to provide direct paramedic coverage to the residents of Toronto Island, offshore sporting events, pleasure craft, and shipping traffic. Waterfront activity increases dramatically during the summer months. Providing a year-round presence on the waterfront, the marine unit is also trained in winter ice rescue procedures.

The strengths of the marine unit include:

  • New and innovative deployment of trained paramedics with faster response times to water incidents.
  • Paramedics are accessible to the immediate scene and patients receive advanced treatment sooner.
  • Marine police and paramedics work directly together as a specialized unit to improve patient outcomes.