LONDON, ONT. -- Neal Roberts, the Chief with the Middlesex-London Paramedic Service says in more than 40 years, he’s never experienced anything like this.

“I was in the emergency unit on the weekend and call after call our paramedics were coming in with positive COVID patients,” says Roberts. “These patients are sicker, especially with the variants of concern.”

Now on top of the heavy workload here, the service is being called upon to help with the dire situation in the Greater Toronto Area transporting critically ill patients to other hospitals in southwestern Ontario.

“On a daily basis we are working with London Health Sciences Centre on taking a team of an intensive care physician, a respiratory therapist and an intensive care nurse up to Toronto to bring back an intensive care or critical care patient,“ says Roberts.

"In addition to that, our service along with other services, Perth County, Oxford County, Elgin County, Grey County are actually going up to Toronto to bring patients from the GTA into Owen Sound, into St. Thomas, in Woodstock, into London Health Sciences or into Windsor.”

To keep up with the sharp increase in demand the service has put three new vehicles on the road and hired an additional 35 paramedics.

Roberts adds, “our call volume is going up especially during COVID, so the demand and the need for paramedics is greater than it's ever been.”