Archive for April, 2019

Recognizing the work of the first first-responders

National Public Safety Communicators Week April 15-21

Ambulance Communications Officers in our region receive more than 36,000 medical and fire calls a year for assistance. On-duty 24/7, 365 days a year, this work is critical to the chain of survival—but the staff performing this vital function are rarely visible.

The North Bay Central Ambulance Communications Centre (CACC) is joining Emergency Communications Centres throughout the Canada in celebrating the second full week of April (April 15-21, 2019) as National Public Safety Communicators Week. This week honours the thousands of men and women who answer emergency calls, dispatch emergency professionals and equipment and render life-saving assistance to citizens.

In her 15 years of dispatching at the CACC, Christine Corbeil has experienced a wide variety of emergencies and tragedies. Corbeil’s fondest memory is providing emergency child birth instructions over the phone to a father. While emergency responders raced to the scene, Corbeil assisted the father in delivering the family’s first child and the emergency responders arrived to find a beautiful baby girl.  “Hearing the father say thank you for helping deliver his beautiful baby girl was a great moment,” Corbeil remembers. She still proudly wears a pink stork pin, a gift to her from her manager following the call.

Often referred to as the first, first responders, communicators have a challenging task. It is imperative that the call taker determine what happened and how to help before responders arrive.

“Remain calm, stay on the phone and help us help you,” says Jennifer Durham-Gagne, a 14 year veteran of dispatching at the CACC.  Call information is sent electronically to the dispatcher for action well before the telephone call is terminated.  And even though cell phone technology has improved significantly over the years, it is still important to know where you are. “Our area spans from Kirkland Lake to Sundridge, so providing your location as Highway 11 isn’t very specific for us,” Durham-Gagne says.

Marc Picard, Manager, CACC says while an emergency call takes only a few minutes, in a crisis it can feel much longer and the call taker must remain calm when most callers are anxious, distraught or confused.

“Call takers are specially trained to gather the critical information needed to prioritize and dispatch calls,” Picard explains. “Not all calls come in from a residential or business address—people need assistance at their cottages, on a snowmobile trail or somewhere on the highway. Dispatchers have to be able to identify a variety of locations on a digital mapping system to be able to send assistance wherever they are.”

Also during this time the call taker has to get specific medical information to both provide pre-arrival instructions to the caller and if a Primary or Advanced Care Paramedic is needed to respond. “They also determine whether assistance is required from Ornge Air Ambulance, Medical First Response Teams, Fire Department or Police,” Picard says.  “Moments later, the next 911 line rings and the process is repeated.”

If you call 911 accidentally, do not hang up. Some helpful tips for cottages and remote addresses include:



Ambulance Communications Officers
Ambulance Communications Officers Christine Corbeil and Jennifer Durham-Gagne at the North Bay CACC.

Ambulance Communications Officer Christine Corbeil
Ambulance Communications Officer Christine Corbeil poses with her pink stork pin visible on her lanyard.

Ambulance Communications Office Jennifer Durham-Gagne at her work station
Ambulance Communications Office Jennifer Durham-Gagne at her work station.

About the North Bay CACC

The North Bay CACC is a department of the North Bay Regional Health Centre located off-site.  Under the direction of the CACC Manager, the North Bay CACC is staffed daily by Team Leaders, full time and part time Ambulance Communications Officers and support staff, including an Operations Supervisor, Information Support Officer, Liaison & Policy Officer, as well as an administration clerk.

On duty CACC staff manage 23 EMS Resources at 10 EMS stations, 9 First Response Teams and 20 Volunteer Fire Departments.  This includes Primary Care and Advanced Care Paramedics, Supervisor units and any air ambulances resources that are in the area.  The CACC also coordinates the use of the NBRHC Community Transfer Vehicle. Behind the dispatchers are an administrative staff that support and assist their work, from payroll, to policy writing, to computer maintenance and upgrades.

There are 58 Fire Departments in the geographical area covered by the North Bay CACC.  Most Fire Departments maintain a tiered response agreement with EMS, which dictates when the CACC should notify them to respond to assist with medical calls, off road rescues or motor vehicle collisions.

CACC coordinates the movement of patients to and from the North Bay Regional Health Centre, West Nipissing General Hospital, Mattawa General Hospital, Temiskaming District Hospital, Englehart and District Hospital as well as the Kirkland Lake and District Hospital within the catchment area as well as the bordering hospitals of Health Sciences North, Timmins and District Hospital, Huntsville Hospital and Centre de Santé Timiskaming to name a few.

With the assistance of the Ornge Communications Centre, emergency calls and non-emergency long distance patient transfers are coordinated with both helicopter and fixed wing air ambulance resources.  There are five hospital helipads, 14 community helipads and three airports within our catchment area.  During daylight hours, an air ambulance helicopter can choose to land directly at the scene of a serious incident if there is a sufficient clearing.

The CACC has a Quality Assurance program which ensures that calls are constantly reviewed to maintain a high quality of service mandated by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.

The North Bay Central Ambulance Communications Centre is committed to ensuring a high level of communications services are provided to both the citizens of Ontario, the ambulance services, fire department and police services at all times.

Lindsay Smylie Smith
Communications Specialist |North Bay Regional Health Centre
705.474.8600 x 7592 | cell  705.492.1235

Volunteers recognized during National Volunteer Week (April 7 to 13)

Lottie Frenssen started volunteering for the North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC) and its legacy organizations for one simple reason: to help people.

The German native was thankful for the generosity the Sisters of St. Joseph of Sault Ste. Marie showed when she first moved to the city and wanted to give back. “The nuns really took me under their wing and helped me become a registered nursing assistant,” says Frenssen. “So I always said I would help out anyway I could.”

It’s a journey of volunteering that spanned a whopping 50 years. It began by knitting sweaters for babies in hospital, and then she says she felt a tug to volunteer her ‘spare’ time in the Gift Shop. “I hated seeing the Gift Shop closed, because I knew it helped the hospital raise money to purchase needed equipment,” Frenssen explains. “So if I was scheduled to work nights, I would volunteer from 6 to 9 p.m. before going to work.”

After she retired from nursing, Frenssen’s volunteer work expanded into other areas—playing a vital role with the Friends of NBRHC (formerly the Volunteer Association) and serving several terms as President, while also helping to raise funds for capital equipment through the sale of break open tickets.

After a full-half century Frenssen decided it was time to retire from volunteering. Her legacy to NBRHC however, lives on.

In 2018, the Health Centre’s Volunteer Involvement (VI) Committee decided to create the Lottie Frenssen Volunteer Award to honour her years of service. “The award is a small way to pay tribute to Lottie and share her legacy with new volunteers,” says Ron Walsh, member of the VI Committee. “It honours those who share Lottie’s tireless efforts and devotion to the Health Centre and set the standard for volunteering, leadership and caring.”

Today, the VI Committee was joined by Frenssen to recognize volunteer Laurie Mills with the latest award. “Laurie has been volunteering with the Health Centre’s Pet Therapy Program for over 20 years. He has gone out of his way to provide services to all areas of the hospital with his dog Vega, specifically our mental health and the law program,” explains Walsh. “We are very grateful to have such a wonderful man and amazing dog as part of our team.”

Today’s award celebration was part of national Volunteer Week, during which the Health Centre thanks the more than 300 volunteers who donate their time and energy to support the hospital community in more than 40 programs.

For more information on the award, visit


Taylor Grant
Assistant, Communications & Volunteer Department
North Bay Regional Health Centre
705-474-8600 ext. 3131

Lottie Frenssen and Laurie Mills
Lottie Frenssen (right) is joined by Laurie Mills and his dog Vega during the national Volunteer Week ceremony.

NBRHC seeing influenza activity

The North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC), in consultation with the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit, has declared an influenza A outbreak on C1 (Inpatient Rehabilitation).

During this time increased precautionary measures are in place. “The health and safety of patients and their families, staff, volunteers and visitors is our highest priority,” says Mark Daniw, Manager of Infection Prevention & Control. “Our efforts are focused on containing the spread of the virus. We have increased cleaning, isolated infected patients and reinforced hand hygiene practices.”

While it’s an unusually late flu season, it’s still not too late to get your flu shot at the Health Unit, physician offices and participating pharmacies. The NBRHC wishes to remind the public of the following measures to help prevent the spread of infections:

This increase in flu activity comes at a time when our Health Centre is experiencing higher than usual levels of inpatient activity and limited bed flow.  We want to thank our staff for their hard work as they continue to provide the best care possible to our communities.

Please familiarize yourself with the options available for non-urgent care like Telehealth Ontario or walk-in clinic availability which can save you an unnecessary visit and wait at the Emergency Department. If you are in an emergency, do not hesitate: call 911 or go straight to the Emergency Department.

For more information on how to protect yourself from the flu visit


Taylor Grant
Communications Assistant
North Bay Regional Health Centre
705-474-8600 ext. 3131