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Edmonton EMS Expanding Rapidly

THE EDMONTON, ALBERTA, EMS HAS IMMEDIATE openings for several paramedics and EMT's with still more coming online in the near future.  The need for additional resources including ambulances, stations, and medics to operate them, has come about for several reasons.  The Calgary Herald describes a few of them:

The median response time in the past two years for so-called "lights and sirens" ambulance calls increased to eight minutes and 13 seconds from seven minutes. photo

Health Minister Fred Horne announced Tuesday that five additional paramedics and 12 emergency medical technicians have been hired this month, and that 14 more vacancies will be fast-tracked to get to full staffing levels as soon as possible.

He also said Alberta Health Services opened a new EMS station in northeast Edmonton on Jan. 17, and that five more are slated to open across the province between now and 2014, including one in the city's west end.

Horne said response times are longer because the population is growing and aging, with the result being EMS workers are responding to more calls than ever.  (The Herald adds:)  City ambulances responded to nearly 48,000 lights and sirens calls in 2010-11, a number expected to increase to more than 65,000 in 2011-12.

In addition, Alberta is continuing to suffer with overrun hospital emergency rooms creating situations where ambulances are forced to "store" their patients for long periods of time, as much as 45 minutes or longer, before they can take them from the ambulance into the hospital itself, thus keeping ambulances out of service for longer times.

In April 2009 all provincial EMS responsibilities were transferred from the localities to the province-wide Alberta Health Services which also oversees all hospital operations.  And as always happens when local activities are transferred to a giant, centralized government-run agency, the entire EMS network fell apart.  This has had a direct bearing on the ability of local EMS departments to function as well as they did previous to the consolidation.  This has also created the situation where paramedics are fleeing the Edmonton EMS to escape the stress and frustration that has crept into the organization.  A survey taken of Edmonton EMS employees in November showed that 2/3 of them are actively looking for employment elsewhere.

 The Edmonton Journal recently reported:

The Health Sciences Association of Alberta conducted a survey which was completed by 146 out of 304 eligible members of the union (in Edmonton).

It found that in the last four shifts completed by those workers:

— 86 per cent experienced a lack of resources, including no ambulances available for emergency calls, otherwise called a red alert.

— 72 per cent said they could not meet their response-time targets three or more times.

— 72 per cent had pending calls of more than one hour, sometimes up to four times.

"According to our survey respondents, the emergency ambulance service in the Edmonton metro zone is completely inadequate as it is and the vast majority of our respondents have raised their concerns to the attention of Alberta Health Services’ management but to no avail," reads the executive summary of the online survey, done between last Nov. 4 and 11. "We shouldn’t be surprised then that two-thirds of our respondents are seriously considering seeking employment elsewhere."

After seeing those results – that were taken by somebody else instead of them – Alberta Health Services sprung into action and announced that they are going to form (another) committee and start having meetings in February.

Read the entire Calgary Herald article HERE.
The Globe & Mail has MORE.
Read the damning report from the Edmonton Journal HERE.

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