The Alberta government announced a new program to help free up ambulances and paramedics to more quickly respond to emergency situations. Alberta Health Services will now arrange for alternative transportation for non-medical patients to make sure that EMS can attend more urgent matters. These new modes of transportation would be in the form of transport vans. Health Minister Jason Copping reiterated the importance of helping to alleviate the stress off first responders with this new initiative.
“We’re seeing a sustained increase of up to 30 per cent in 911 calls and the system had limited slack in it before. On top of that, emergency departments are seeing high volumes of very sick patients, so paramedics are waiting longer in emergency. There’s no EMS system that could deal with this situation without real strain. The fact is response times are too long, and we need to get them back down. So we’re adding capacity and we’re looking at any new option that can help.”
The Alberta NDP say they are not impressed with the UCP’s solution to the new initiative. Health Critic David Shepherd says the province’s response to the EMS crisis is grossly inadequate and does not address the staffing shortage throughout Alberta’s health system.
“This response from the UCP, there is nothing new here. There was nothing that required the Premier, the Minister of Health and their top appointee to AHS. The UCP’s response to the EMS crisis is grossly inadequate and it does not address the significant staffing shortage throughout Alberta’s health care system, including paramedics and emergency room staff. I think it was telling that today there was not a single paramedic, nurse or any hospital staff that stood with the Premier, the Minister and the top administrator for AHS.”
Officials from AHS estimate that 15 per cent of transports will be diverted from emergency medical services.