The Alberta Health Care Action Plan which was created and announced last year had some changes implemented at the beginning of this year.  

These changes are meant to lower emergency medical services (EMS) response times; doctors will be reporting back to Alberta Health Services (AHS) in February on the changes.  

Some of Alberta’s Health Care Action Plan changes include: 

  • Adding 20 additional ambulances during peak hours to lower EMS wait times. These ambulances are expected to start rolling out in the spring, with 10 ambulances going to Calgary and 10 ambulances going to Edmonton. 

  • Giving paramedics the ability to assess a patient’s condition on scene and decide whether the patient needs to be transferred to the emergency room by ambulance. 

  • Fast-tracking ambulance transfers at emergency departments by moving less urgent patients to hospital waiting areas; based on new provincial guidelines. 

  • Using appropriately trained resources for non-emergency transfers in order to free up paramedics. 

Dr. John Cowell, the AHS official administrator, says these changes focus on the four main problems that are raising wait times. 

“[Which are] Improving EMS response times, decreasing emergency department wait times, reducing wait times for surgeries, and improving patient flow throughout the healthcare system,” explained Dr. Cowell. “We are getting there, and making progress every day.” 

Although Alberta’s government is confident this plan will improve wait times NDP Health Critic, David Shepherd went on to say that the government is ignoring paramedics' requests for several recurring issues.  

“To get crews off-shift on time, offer all paramedics a permanent full-time contract, and expand harm reduction services to cut down the huge number of drug poisoning calls,” mentioned Shepherd. “The fact that the solutions called for by paramedics are not included in this report is a serious failure by this government, and it’s frustrating to see a task force spend a year coming up with a recommendation to form another task force, this time for emergency departments.” 

Thousands of EMS shifts are going unfilled every month in Edmonton alone, Shephard explained. 

Everyone will get the chance to see if this plan will improve EMS response times, as doctors will report back on the success of these changes in February 2023. 

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