Toronto Paramedic Services has assigned a team of supervisors to a number of hospitals as part of a wider effort to get crews back on the road more quickly.

The change is intended to help speed up the offloading of patients, which officials have said is the single biggest contributor to the paramedic shortages that have resulted in response time delays for lower priority calls in recent weeks.

According to the city, the crews will be “fully-focused on getting paramedic crews and ambulances back on the road as quickly as possible” and will use several strategies to do so, including having paramedics tend to more than one patient awaiting to be offloaded in an emergency department when it is safe to do so.

The deployment of the supervisors to local hospitals comes after Toronto Paramedics Services was forced to issue a “code red” last weekend after it was left without a single free ambulance available to respond to calls.

In more typical times around 40 Toronto ambulances are usually available to respond to calls at any point, according to a city spokesperson.

“Delays in off-loading patients into the care of hospitals remains the single biggest challenge and risk to ambulance availability in Toronto today, recognizing that hospitals also face staffing shortages because of the Omicron variant,” a news release issued by the city on Friday afternoon states. “The city continues to work with its hospital partners to reduce these delays as much as possible.”

City officials have said that as many as 50 ambulances were tied up waiting to offload patients last weekend when the “code red” was issued.

While Toronto Paramedic Services continues to see higher than normal rates of absenteeism amid the spread of the Omicron variant, it says that the “significant delays’ paramedics are encountering at hospitals are the biggest hurdle impacting service right now.

About 17 per cent of paramedics were absent on Thursday due to illness or isolation requirements, nearly double the pre-pandemic rate for unplanned absences of nine per cent.