While Brandon’s ambulance service has been deemed excellent by the majority of those surveyed last year, bumpy rides to the hospital remain an issue, according to the fire chief.
Fire and Emergency Services released the 2013 results of its annual EMS survey on ambulance satisfaction last week, which shows the majority of the 400 responders deemed the service and paramedics "excellent."
Paramedics’ interaction, knowledge and treatment scored 64 per cent in the excellent category, a number which has remained steady for the past two years.
Of those surveyed, 55 per cent ranked confidence in ambulance service as "excellent" as well, up from 52 per cent in 2012 and 47 per cent in 2011.
Along with the 10-question survey, riders were able to provide comments regarding trips. One complaint has been a perennial thorn in the service’s side, according to Fire Chief Brent Dane.
"A lot of the complaints is the ride of the ambulance, how rough it is," he said. "That’s a big complaint."
While the current configuration of the ambulances give drivers stability, Dane said it’s hard to miss any bumps or potholes on the road.
To make the trips across Brandon’s pothole-riddled streets, the current fleet vehicles have the same suspension as a three-quarter-ton pickup truck.
In past years, the region has tried air ride suspension on fleet vehicles, but are temperamental when the temperatures plummet, Dane said.
"And even with an air ride, when you hit a pothole, it isn’t going to protect you all that well," he said.
"There’s just no getting around it."
Especially if a patient has a back or neck injury, the smallest bump can mean excruciating pain, Dane added.
"I know the staff feel terrible because you know it’s adding pain to the patient, it is pretty hard."
The survey aimed to get representation from three age demographics as well as those who travel outside of Brandon, though the majority of respondents were over 60 years old.
"It is a big focus through Manitoba Health, Prairie Mountain Health and ourselves to make sure that patient care is No. 1," he said. "That’s a focus every year."
About 60 per cent of those surveyed were for trips within Brandon, 18 per cent were trips to Winnipeg, 14 per cent were those coming into Brandon, and seven per cent were marked "other."