Between April 25 2022 till May 11, 2022, the Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulance which was designated as an inter-facility transfer (IFT) ambulance, was utilized in Airdrie twice. The majority of the inter-facility transfers were conducted in Calgary, for both pickups and drop-offs.
Documents obtained by Discover Airdrie through a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act request (FOIP 2022-G-180) show that in its first 16 days, the new ambulance responded to a singular emergency event and 30 IFT events. 15 of the IFT events had Calgary listed as the 'pickup municipality', while Airdrie was listed twice. The IFT ambulance also had pickups in Red Deer, Strathmore, Innisfail and Didsbury.
Nearly all of the 'drop-off' facilities were located in Calgary, with May 3 2022 seeing the most transfers, thus far: 5. On that day, the IFT ambulance, which has two shifts, one that runs from 7 A.M. till 4 P.M. and one that runs from 4 P.M. till midnight would have three pick ups in Calgary in various medical centres including Foothills Medical Centre, Peter Lougheed Centre, the Alberta Children's Hospital, as well as the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.
The documents also showed that from January 1 2022 till April 24, 2022 - one day before the new IFT ambulance started - Airdrie Non-IFT Units, meaning advanced life support ambulances (ALS) responded to 1,406 emergency calls in Calgary and to 935 in Airdrie in the noted timeframe.
During the same time period, Non-IFT Airdrie ambulances responded to 39 inter-facility transfers in Calgary and 162 in Airdrie. There were 72 events classified as 'other' responded to by Airdrie's EMS within Calgary, for a total of 1,517 responses by Airdrie within Calgary. Airdrie's EMS responded to a total of 1,129 events in Airdrie, with 32 of those events being classified as other.
Other events in other locations, including both emergency events and inter-facility transfers, totalled 401 events, which means that Airdrie's ambulances responded to a total of 3047 events in the past 113 days; amounting to nearly 50 per cent of the events that were responded to by Airdrie ambulances occurring in Calgary, while 37 per cent pertain to Airdrie.
In a previous statement on April 5, 2022, an Alberta Health Services (AHS) spokesperson wrote that "EMS has seen significant short-term success by implementing the Metro Response Plan, which is designed to assist in keeping ambulances close to their home base. EMS has reported a 43% reduction in Airdrie ambulances coming into the City of Calgary and the early data shows this downward trend is continuing."
AHS has also stated that ambulances, while they may be based in one area, are not allocated for the exclusive service of that area only.
"Ambulances are a provincial resource that is assigned or relocated based on demand."
Discover Airdrie previously also reached out to MLA for Airdrie-East., Angela Pitt regarding the utilization of the IFT ambulance in Airdrie. In a written statement last month, Pitt wrote that "while the new ambulance is primarily focused on IFTs, it plays a dual response role as needed. Adding this new ambulance will benefit patients in Airdrie by keeping Airdrie ambulances available for urgent calls from local patients."
Pitt underlined in her statement that improving EMS is a major priority for the current provincial government, citing that Budget 2022 provided EMS with a $587 million operating budget, a 12.2 per cent increase from Budget 2021.
"This represents a $64 million increase in EMS funding, which will help ease system pressure and make EMS more responsive to community needs. Our 10-point plan to add EMS capacity, meanwhile, is already starting to show some results. 66 new EMS staff have already been hired, and as part of the Metro Response Plan that rolled out in early February, nine communities, including Airdrie, have experienced a noticeable drop in ambulances going into neighbouring urban centres."
Discover Airdrie also requested the number of red alerts in Airdrie as well as data regarding short-staffing of ambulances in Airdrie that would lead to shutdowns, however, AHS, in their reply to the FOIP request stated that "red alerts in Airdrie are not tracked. Also, absences are not tracked in such a way that AHS can respond to your request for information on ambulance shift shutdowns due to short-staffing."
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