Recently, wait times for EMS have increased throughout the province, and for many Albertans it has started to become a problem.  

Alberta Health Services and the UCP Government have recognized the issue and recently released a 10-point plan to add capacity to EMS and to ensure the most critical patients receive immediate care.  

The 10-point plan looks as follows:  

Actions currently underway: 

  1. Developing a strategic provincial service plan for EMS delivery in the province 

  1. Hiring more paramedics 

  1. Launching pilot projects to manage non-emergency inter-facility transfers 

  1. Initiating an ‘hours of work’ project to help ease staff fatigue 

  1. Transferring low priority calls to other agencies in consultation with EMS physicians 

  1. Stopping the automatic dispatch of ambulances to motor vehicle collisions that don’t have injuries 

  1. Completing an evaluation by an emergency communications officer to determine if an ambulance from out of area, though it may be closest to a 911 call, is most appropriate to respond 

Actions to be rolled out soon: 

  1. Creating a new integrated operations centre in Calgary 

  1. Implementing a pilot project in Red Deer that will manage most patient transfers between facilities with dedicated transfer units, freeing up ambulances to handle emergency calls 

  1. Allowing ambulances to be pre-empted from assignments, instead of being automatically dispatched when a 911 call is received, to ensure more ambulances are available for critical patients 

DiscoverAirdrie caught up with Shaun Fluker, the NDP candidate for Airdrie-Cochrane, to ask his opinion on the problem.  

Fluker says “it's a crisis that’s been unfolding for several years and things like drastically increased call volumes at EMS. My understanding of poor morale amongst paramedics, is because of difficult working conditions, long hours, and frustrations at ER departments. My primary response would be that the 10-point plan is a Band-Aid and not really a solution”.  

Fluker added “that the problem is really a complicated tapestry in all areas” and that if he got elected to the Airdrie Cochrane Riding, the starting point would be recognizing the complexity of the issue.  

“When I think about solutions, what I would put forward as a member of the legislature is, really starting with the basics, one, you need to have a government that people trust that is committed to supporting the public health care system because that's what we're talking about here. You need a government that is listening to its experts and, and science on all issues. “ 

Across the province, there has been outrage among paramedics and those waiting for a transfer from a hospital to hospital despite sometimes having ambulances waiting in the ambulance bay.  

Fluker stated that “part of the issue is emergency departments that just don't have the staff to handle the volumes.”  

Cities like Calgary major hospitals often have time periods where certain departments have to close because they don’t have enough staff. Or closer to home, for Airdronians, Urgent Care having to shut down over the weekend due to staffing problems.   

Fluker believes that an independent audit could fix this issue and help shed light on the problem.  

“There is policy and legislature that must be considered when constructing a hospital,” Fluker says. He added that it's important to have a government that is committed to building a hospital for a long period of time as it takes 5-10 years to develop and complete.  

Fluker ended off by saying “both Airdrie and Cochrane are the two of if not the two fastest-growing communities in the province, if not the country as a whole. And so, for starters, I think it's fairly obvious to most folks that both communities aren't getting the attention they deserve from the current provincial government.”  

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