Province investing in EMS systems

The Alberta government announced on Thursday $35 million in funding over three years to assist with reducing emergency response times and support EMS workers.

“We will outline significant steps our government and partners are taking to enhance the emergency response capabilities and healthcare across Alberta, said Alberta Minister of Health Adriana LaGrange on Thursday in news conference.

“At the forefront of our emergency medical services are the dedicated paramedics and emergency responders who tirelessly serve our communities with commitment and compassion, ensuring Albertans receive the critical care they need in times of crisis,” said LaGrange.

LaGrange said Alberta Health Services has been awarded contracts with two partners in providing, “scheduled low acuity inter facility transfer services.

“These contracts in Calgary and Edmonton will provide non-urgent transfer services, bolstering the resources of our EMS system. So this strategic initiative will enable Alberta Health Services to help ensure that ambulances and paramedics are available to respond to emergency medical calls in Calgary and the surrounding areas,” she said.

Parliamentary secretary for Rural Health Martin Long shared the impact the 2024 funding will have on EMS fleets in rural areas.

“One of the critical elements in delivering swift emergency care is the efficiency of our EMS leads. This budget 2024 for the provinces EMS vehicles fleet will help support the real numbers I represent.

“The efficiency of EMS fleets is crucial for rural Albertans because it directly affects timely access to life saving medical care. In rural areas where distances between communities and health care facilities are often significant, efficient EMS services during emergencies save lives and improve health outcomes,” said Long.

Long described the limitations in rural communities and recruiting paramedics will increase improvement of EMS.

“Air ambulances are often the fastest means of transporting patients to higher levels of care workforce, study will assess the availability and distribution of paramedics in rural regions.

“Identifying areas with shortages and recommending strategies to recruit and retain paramedics in those areas. This can lead to increased staff levels, improved response times and better quality of care for rural residents during medical emergencies.”

Tim Ford, registrar of Alberta College of Paramedics, said the support of the government is crucial to strengthening Alberta’s health care system.

“As a regulator of close to 9,000, paramedics and emergency medical responders working in both public and the private sector.

I can confidently say that the continued support of this government and addressing our members concerns is vital to building strong effective health care systems. We saw a great example of this support with the adoption of the Alberta EMS provincial advisory committee report early last year,” said Ford.

LaGrange reassured the supports this funding would provide.

“These investments are pivotal in enhancing system capacity, stability and response time. They're also provide our dedicated EMS practitioners the necessary resources to continue delivering exceptional care to Albertans in need.

“Further solidifying our commitment to deliver timely and accessible health care services. It's imperative that Albertans who require emergency transport to hospital or other health care facilities receive the care they need when they need it,” she said.

Steffanie Costigan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald