GIS as an Aid to the Urgences-Sante in Montreal

(Written by Intro to GIS student, L. M.)

Montreal is home to 1,620,693 million people and is ranked as the 2nd largest city in Canada. The city has countless events, exquisite restaurants, educational museums and highly regarded schools for its massive population. However a quick emergency response time is not one of them.

Currently the average emergency response time for an ambulance in the City of Montreal is nine minutes and 27 seconds. This number is highly dependent on the traffic and the time of day at which the ambulance is dispatched. Once we get into the suburbs of Montreal, that time can fluctuate a lot more to upwards of almost fifteen minutes.

According to CTV News, “Quebec’s health minister says Urgences-Sante, which serves both Montreal and Laval, needs to organize itself better, in order to reduce its response time.”

How can this be accomplished? The Grand Prairie Region in Alberta has found an answer in GIS.

For years GIS has been used as an aid to help firefighters and emergency response teams fight bush and forest fires. GIS and GPS tools are now being implemented in upstate New York to improve the emergency response time of their medical services. So why not try applying these new technologies to Montreal?

It could start simple, in the way that the Grand Prairies did, by creating hardcopy GIS maps for the emergency works to carry when they are in unknown areas of the city as well as in areas where GPS does not function well (e.g., in urban canyons). The next step would be to start creating categories of GIS-generated maps that illustrate dense traffic areas throughout the day. This way a clear route could be established for emergency crews to always find the fastest way to their destination.

We have seen GIS used in many measures for disaster management, now it is time to take one step higher and use GIS in Emergency Management Services, to prevent further disaster from occurring in our City of Montreal.

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