Alberta Paramedics Union Sounds Alarm on Ambulance Resources | The Canadian News

A union representing thousands of employees in Alberta’s healthcare sector, including paramedics, says the state of ambulance services in the province is dire, but that’s not new information; it is simply falling on deaf ears.

Albertans can no longer be sure that an ambulance will be available to respond when they need it, the The Alberta Health Sciences Association said in a press release Tuesday.

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Help took more than 30 minutes to arrive after Shelly McCreary called 911 about the nosebleed of her 87-year-old mother, Mavis Irwin, on Tuesday.

“We were amazed at how long it took us to get help,” he said.

McCreary said that when paramedics arrived, they told him he was lucky the crews had just come in from another call from Calgary.

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“If they hadn’t finished that call, we would have had to wait for an ambulance to come out of High River,” he said.

“It makes me so angry that a province like Alberta is now in this position.”

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HSAA President Mike Parker said Wednesday: “The pressure you are putting on that patient and the responding paramedics is of the highest level. I’ve never seen him at this level before. “

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Alberta EMS to expand ambulance transport locations beyond emergency departments

Alberta EMS to Expand Ambulance Transport Locations Beyond Emergency Departments – July 6, 2021

Code Red

When ambulances are not available, it is called a code red or red alert.

“Year after year, it has grown to the point where code red is a daily operation,” Parker said.

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“When you look at Calgary this weekend, the reports that we are getting are absolutely devastating: the hours and hours when no trucks were available, the fact that Kananaskis is responding to the city of Calgary for a call.”

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The HSAA initiated the HSAA EMS Facebook Page on Aug. 28, sharing his own paramedic tracking information to “give Albertans a better idea of ​​the true state of the ambulance service in the province.”

As of Aug. 28, it says there were at least 135 red alerts in at least 12 communities, including at least 61 in Calgary and 35 in Edmonton.

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Alberta Health Services said red codes or red alerts do not mean EMS cannot respond to emergencies to provide patient care.

“The red codes are used as a system management tool that allows EMS to know when and where additional resources are needed to ensure that we can always respond to emergencies,” the health authority said Wednesday by email.

“Codes red typically last from a few seconds to a couple of minutes and end when resources are released or deployed from other areas with no impact on patient care or ambulance wait times.”

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Parker said: “Ten years ago, when you would see a red code every few days for a few minutes, anyone who was at work would be shocked and say, ‘Wow, we have to clean and take out the units somehow because there is a call waiting. and we don’t have trucks. Today, it is only part of the daily workload these paramedics face. “

Click to play video: 'Calgary police take man to hospital with 45 minute wait for ambulance'

Calgary police take man to hospital with 45 minute wait for ambulance

Calgary Police Take Man to Hospital with 45 Minute Wait for Ambulance – Aug 5, 2021

Increased call volume

AHS He said having a borderless ambulance service means that if some area needs more support, it can be provided.

“Anyone who needs EMS care will get it,” AHS said.

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AHS said it is experiencing an “unprecedented increase” in emergency calls, up 30% in 2021.

“Several factors combined, including the COVID-19 pandemic, opioid concerns and emergency calls related to people returning to normal levels of activity, are contributing to the increase,” the health authority said.

“All types of calls have increased, across the province, and high levels of staff sickness and fatigue are also contributing to challenges in the EMS system.”

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Parker said call volumes have risen steadily over the past decade, but “are not offset by additional resources,” adding that dispatchers receive 1,500 calls a day.

“They are responding [across] hundreds of miles now, lights and sirens, for 911 calls in this province because there simply aren’t enough resources to handle the volume, “he said.

Click to Play Video: 'Alberta Paramedics Are Overworked and Exhausted - HSAA Union'

Alberta paramedics are overworked and exhausted – HSAA union

Alberta Paramedics Are Overworked And Exhausted: HSAA Union – Aug 2, 2021

‘All day, every day in perpetuity’

Paramedics are trained to deal with triage of mass casualty events, Parker said.

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“What they are not trained to do is operate a system that operates with zero ambulances all day, every day in perpetuity. There is no end in sight here, ”he said.

“They have been doing this for years, and there is no one listening and there is no leadership within the AHS EMS organization,” he added, noting that the union discussed the issue with governments and employers, but that it has been repeatedly ignored.

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Parker advised people to write to the minister of health and their MLA to express what they had seen first-hand.

“We need resources added to the street. Our dispatch centers are hanging up on people to answer the next very busy call. This must be addressed now, ”he said.

AHS said it has “hired additional staff and ambulances and is filling 100 paramedic positions across the province.” The health authority said it is deploying supervisors, delaying some non-urgent transfers and offering overtime to willing staff.

Parker said the problem is not specific to a pandemic.

“I wish I could say that once COVID is over, we will return to a situation where we are fine. That’s something I could support and defend myself on, ”he said. “Is not.”

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