Nova Scotia adds nurses to 911 call centre to free up paramedics

Nova Scotia will now station a nurse at the Emergency Health Services's medical communications centre. (Getty Images - image credit)
Nova Scotia will now station a nurse at the Emergency Health Services's medical communications centre. (Getty Images - image credit)

Nova Scotia will now station a nurse at the Emergency Health Services's medical communications centre in a move the government says will free up paramedics.

The registered nurse will work with a clinical support paramedic and doctor to help give medical advice and treatment options to people who call 911 with a medical issue. The new role starts in November.

"If the call is health-related but does not need paramedic assistance, the caller may be transferred to the EHS nurse, who will assess the patient, plan treatment and provide medical advice," spokesperson Khalehla Perrault said in a news release Friday.

The government hopes that will free up paramedics to respond in person to emergencies.

People who need non-emergency medical advice can still call 811 and speak to a nurse any time.

'System in failure'

Nova Scotia has faced shortages of paramedics and ambulances to respond to emergencies, which their union called a "system in failure" in February.

The news release included a comment from Kevin MacMullin, business manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 727.

"This is another piece to the complexity faced in providing the right resource to the right patient at the right time and will assist our valued paramedics in their delivery of patient care where it is needed most urgently," he said.

"There are many other initiatives being looked at collaboratively to assist in the retention and workplace improvements for our paramedics as we move forward to meet the challenges paramedics face on a daily basis."

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