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Editorial: EMS plan

The hot-button issue of local ambulance response times once again made its way onto our front page this week. 
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The hot-button issue of local ambulance response times once again made its way onto our front page this week. 

On Jan. 20, a 10-year-old boy from Airdrie with "complex medical needs" had to be transported to the urgent care centre by local fire crews after he had slipped and broken his leg, due to a lack of ambulances in the city at that time. The incident came just a month after an on-duty paramedic died of cardiac arrest at the Airdrie Urgent Care Centre, which occurred during another "red alert" situation.

While Airdrie's firefighters are trained paramedics and fully capable of the transport they were tasked with last Thursday, it's disturbing that no ambulance unit was available to respond at the time, as it meant the fire crews were temporarily pulled away from their usual duties. According to the boy's mother, her and her son's wait was roughly 45 minutes for an emergency response. 

The boy's broken leg was one of four simultaneous calls in which Airdrie Fire Department crews assisted with patient transport on Jan. 20 – the result of a highly unusual spike in medical responses and 911 calls, according to a City of Airdrie press release.

The only bright side of that day was that it may have prompted the provincial government's announcement on Jan. 24 that it would be creating a new advisory committee and a 10-point plan to try and fix Alberta's ambulance and EMS availability issues. According to a press conference, the committee will come up with recommendations for a new EMS service plan, including solutions like hiring more paramedics, diverting some calls to other referral lines, preventing dispatch of an ambulance to a non-injury-related call, and other strategies.

It's a positive and much-needed step toward hopefully easing the unprecedented burden and strain currently facing paramedics and EMS personnel in Alberta. 


Scott Strasser

About the Author: Scott Strasser

Scott Strasser, editor
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