Ambulance situation is ‘bad’ EMS manager says

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SANDRA M STANWAY
Brooks Bulletin

Ambulance calls across the province have increased 30 per cent over last year and an AHS representative said the ambulance situation is bad.
“On a scale of one out of 10 it’s probably an 11,”Rick Yanco, EMS manager for Alberta Health Services, told city county joint services members on Tuesday.
“We’re looking at adding another nighttime ambulance in Brooks,” he said.
Yanco said call volumes are up in the immediate area due to inter facility transfers such as between Bassano and Brooks because rural hospitals are losing patients to urbans.
Those transfers are due to a lack of physicians in Bassano.
Yanco said Bassano has been ranked by the province for help but it’s really Brooks that needs the help.
“We bring Bassano down to help,” he said.
“I don’t know what that’s going to look like yet. We’re just waiting for the (10-Point Plan) report but we’ll probably be adding that resource in Brooks in the near future in the nighttime.”
There has been a lack of ambulances in some areas across the province with some people having reported waiting over 30 minutes.
Yanco explained that when an ambulance from a smaller community was in the city with a transport they may have had to respond for a Calgary-area call or a call on their way home.
“The problem was in the fall when you got into Calgary you never got out with call after call after call,” he said.
He said the province has come out with the Metro Response Plan as part of a 10-Point Plan and it changes how some ambulances are assigned in order to help keep suburban ambulances in their home communities.
Transport ambulances from smaller communities can now only be dispatched for life-threatening calls when they’re in metro areas.
“We’re being tagged on probably 60-70 per cent less calls than we were a few months ago,” said Yanco.
Other plan points include calls being diverted to the Poison and Drug Information Services as a way to transfer low priority calls, no longer automatic dispatches to collisions and new ambulances for Calgary and Edmonton over the next two years.
Currently there are two ambulances during the day in Brooks, one at night and one that is on call.