EMS capacity in Alberta to be immediately increased, committee to help pave future EMS path
Alberta unveiled a 10-point plan Monday to deal with unprecedented stress on the provincial EMS system.
Health Minister Jason Copping announced the plan, along with an advisory committee, saying EMS is dealing with unprecedented demands, including a 30 per cent increase in 911 calls over the last several months due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Staffing fatigue, illness, and delays in the arrival of new ambulances and specialized parts are also concerns.
“Responding to medical emergencies is a critical need for all Albertans. I am honoured to have this opportunity to make a difference and improve the system for the long term,” said Copping.
An EMS advisory committee has been created to provide immediate and long-term recommendations to the health minister by May and will be co-chaired by Highwood MLA RJ Sigurdson and Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard.
AHS is also working on a 10-point plan aimed at increasing capacity to EMS. Officials say five actions are already underway including:
- Better managing staff fatigue
- Transferring non-emergency or low priority calls to other agencies
- Refraining from sending ambulances to non-injury crashes
- Hiring paramedics as quickly as possible to fill vacancies, opening discussions with post-secondary institutions on expanding EMS training courses
- Improving the management of inter-facility patient transfers. Pilot projects introduced where patients are transported in vehicles other than ambulances
- The creation of an integrated operations centre in Calgary
- Adjusting emergency call evaluation protocols and provincial dispatching processes to determine if its appropriate for an ambulance from outside a jurisdiction to respond
- Pre-empting and diverting workflow to prioritize ambulances for calls with the greatest urgent medical need
- Developing a provincial service plan for the next five to 10 years
- Creating an inter-facility transfer pilot where units within a geographical area would be dedicated to transfers.
The province is also issuing a request for proposals to conduct a third party review of EMS dispatch in February.
The changes comes amid growing calls for changes from the union representing Alberta paramedics over concerns about red alerts in Calgary and Edmonton, which is when there are no ambulances available to respond to emergency calls in a jurisdiction.
On Monday, the opposition NDP also revealed data obtained through a Freedom of Information request showing Alberta’s two largest cities were issuing red alerts roughly every 90 minutes.
According to the NDP, Calgary and Edmonton saw 2,276 code reds between Aug. 1 and Dec. 6, 2021, which was an average of 17 per day. In 2020, Calgary saw an average of nine per day.
“Albertans need to know that when they are in distress and call 911 that an ambulance will reach them as quickly as possible,” said Alberta NDP Health Critic David Shepherd.
“The fact that an ambulance wasn’t available almost every hour of the day in our province’s two major cities is severely alarming.”
While Shepherd recognizes pressure on EMS has risen during the pandemic, he’s critical of the UCP’s changes to ambulance dispatch services, which took place last January.
He’s calling on the UCP to start reporting EMS red alerts to the public and to restore the Hospital EMS Liaison Officers Program (HELO) which was cancelled by the UCP in October 2019.
The health minister says response times are posted online for different response times and says the new committee will be considering a number of different options to improve EMS response times.
Mike Parker, president of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, the union representing EMS workers, issued a statement Monday afternoon following the announcement.
“It is long past time an Alberta government got to work on solving the EMS crisis in Alberta. Our advocacy to expose the state of EMS by reporting red alerts has made the need for action clear," it read.
“HSAA has been asked to come to the table to come up with solutions. As the experts in the delivery of emergency medical services we are more than willing to get to work. However, to be clear, HSAA will not be recommending or supportive of any privatization efforts.
“My focus throughout this process will be the health of Albertans and ensuring care is there when they need it. Every dollar needs to be spent on patient care — not profits for private contractors.”
Calgary Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Families are sharing photos and stories of their loved ones, who lost their lives in a mass shooting in Texas that killed at least 19 children and two adults on Tuesday afternoon.
Onlookers urged police officers to charge into the Texas elementary school where a gunman's rampage killed 19 children and two teachers, a witness said Wednesday, as investigators worked to track the massacre that lasted upwards of 40 minutes and ended when the 18-year-old shooter was killed by a Border Patrol team.
The six candidates on the ballot to be the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada are debating face-to-face in French, in Laval, Que.
A news conference about the shooting at a Texas elementary school broke into shouting Wednesday as Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke blamed Republican Gov. Greg Abbott for inaction ahead of the latest in a long string of mass shootings in the state.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cancelled plans to appear in person at a Liberal fundraiser in British Columbia Tuesday after RCMP warned an aggressive protest outside the event could escalate if he arrived, said a source close to the decision. The source spoke to The Canadian Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the situation publicly.
Several parts of the country, including British Columbia and Canada's Maritime provinces, are likely to see wetter-than-normal conditions this summer, according to AccuWeather's annual summer forecast.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says it has now confirmed a total of 16 cases of monkeypox in the country, all in Quebec.
A jury in Portland has convicted a self-published romance novelist - who once wrote an essay titled 'How to Murder Your Husband' - of fatally shooting her husband four years ago.
Do oil companies control the price of crude? CTVNews.ca asked experts to explain.
Even though they cheer for opposite teams, a proposal by a Flames fan at Game 4 of the Battle of Alberta received a resounding "yes" from the Oilers-loving bride to be.
Edmonton’s School Resource Officer Program has received a passing grade in a new report that was presented to Catholic School Trustees on Wednesday.
Alberta's justice minister is facing criticism for "strange" and "remarkably unhelpful" comments he made in the legislature on Tuesday when an NDP MLA asked him to help fight crime in Chinatown.
A social media video that captures the moment a man gets Tasered by a Vancouver police officer is prompting calls for more training for police going out mental health calls.
Things got messy at B.C. Premier John Horgan's constituency office Wednesday.
The province is not promising any additional help to a Coquitlam woman with stage 4 breast cancer who is having to pay about $1200 a month for her treatment.
As the inquiry into Nova Scotia’s mass shooting moves its public proceedings to Truro, many of the family members affected by the tragedy and their lawyers are boycotting the proceedings over the next week.
Former Chief Anchor Steve Murphy offers a timely perspective on the Mass Casualty Commission and the difference 30 years after the Westray inquiry.
Two more people have been charged with murder in connection with a fatal house fire in Nova Scotia’s Yarmouth County in March. Three people have now been charged in the case.
Authorities are investigating Wednesday after the body of a porpoise was discovered on a beach near Victoria.
Victoria police say three men were arrested after a random bear spray attack occurred on Monday.
A British Columbia company that was once at the forefront of the booming plant-based meats industry is shuttering stores and production plants as it struggles to survive.
Was your home damaged by the Ontario storm? Insurance companies say payouts could take weeks to process
The insurance industry says it could take up to six weeks to get an idea of how many hundreds of millions of dollars in pay outs will be required from the weekend storm that brought death and destruction to Ontario and Quebec, but that early estimates are substantial.
Police have released new video of a recent incident in which a vehicle was caught doing doughnuts and speeding along the shoulder of busy Ontario roadways.
People all across Ontario are getting creative when it comes to netting a secondary income, otherwise known as a “side hustle,” and many are turning to secondhand economies thriving on online platforms.
Quebec politicians were not pleased with the federal Liberals' comments on Bill 96 and Bill 21, firing back with a slew of protests and even raising sovereignty as the solution.
Quebec's public health department is set to give its first press conference on the growing monkeypox outbreak as the province recorded its 16th confirmed case Wednesday.
Indigenous communities in Quebec say the language law passed Tuesday will harm the education prospects of their youth and undermine reconciliation in the province.
The president of Hydro Ottawa says "with a little bit of luck" power will be restored along the Merivale Road area on Thursday, bringing power to another 15,000 to 20,000 customers still in the dark following Saturday's storm.
The Ottawa Catholic School Board says all schools with power will be open on Thursday, but 14 schools without power will remain closed.
Out of the tragedy of Saturday’s storm, come stories of people helping each other.
New details are emerging about the tragic incident that killed 27-year-old Shelby Humble-Neale on Saturday.
Waterloo regional police say evidence of gunfire found in McLennan Park in Kitchener is connected to another shooting incident in the nearby area of Windflower Drive and Windflower Crescent.
Two 29-year-old men have been seriously injured following a collision in Baden, Ont., with one needing to be airlifted to a hospital outside the region.
The Prime Minister toured the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, which is working to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
Saskatoon Police Service says that the use and presence of potent new synthetic opioids known as nitazenes are difficult to track and monitor.
A 48-year-old semi-truck driver was killed in in a rollover near Meadow Lake on Tuesday.
It’s a sign that summer is on the horizon. Farmers’ markets are opening in cities and towns across the north.
Health care appears to be one of the bigger issues for voters along the North Shore as they get set to cast ballots in Algoma-Manitoulin.
A candidate in the provincial election in Greater Sudbury has been named in a $306 million lawsuit related to last winter's trucker convoy in Ottawa.
The Manitoba Government could turn to the military for help as it struggles with staffing shortages, overcrowding, and in some cases, temporary closures of emergency rooms.
The Manitoba government is hinting it may allow more alcohol sales through private channels to boost customer convenience.
Hundreds of residents in River Park South were left without power Wednesday evening after a pole was knocked down on St. Anne's Road.
'All it takes is one': Sask. RCMP partner with Washington police to publicize disappearance of Mekayla Bali
Saskatchewan RCMP and the Washington State Patrol announced a collaboration of efforts to locate Mekayla Bali, who was 16-years-old when she was last on April 12, 2016 in Yorkton.
A new art exhibit at the George Bothwell Library is hoping to examine and remove the feeling of shame associated with people who are deaf and hard of hearing.
For those looking to hop the border into Manitoba for their camping seasons, it started off on the wrong foot for Duck Mountain Provincial Park.