AHS weighs in on ambulance response times
| Posted: Saturday, Mar 23, 2013 06:00 am
Re: March 9 article “Ambulance times rising.”
We write in response to a Gazette article that referred to the recent Health Quality Council of Alberta report on Emergency Medical Services (EMS). The published article identified that the report does not address the core issue – getting more ambulances on the road. We would like to provide some additional information and facts regarding ongoing ambulance services that are currently contracted to St. Albert Fire Services.
Since responsibility for EMS transferred from municipalities across the province to Alberta Health Services (AHS), there have been a number of improvements to service and efficiencies:
• Since the transition in 2009, response times in St. Albert have held constant with no major changes despite a five-per-cent increase in call volumes;
• The EMS resources that are strictly dedicated to ambulance response are now committed to supporting all forms of health care within the community. This may include time-dependent transfers from the local hospital to specialized care facilities in Edmonton;
• Consolidated dispatch centres can see where all EMS resources are located in real-time through GPS technology. It helps to improve system coordination before a patient arrives at the hospital and ensures effective use of EMS resources;
• A borderless system means the closest available ambulance is sent to an emergency;
• Accountability for EMS in the Edmonton area has been transferred to the Edmonton Zone. Local EMS and health-care leaders are now more closely connected to all the services provided in their communities and are able to make decisions based on the unique needs of each community.
At the beginning of March, the Alberta government released the Health Quality Council of Alberta’s report (HQCA) on ground ambulance services. AHS EMS is carefully reviewing and assessing the HQCA recommendations and will develop a plan on how we will fully implement the recommendations.
Many of the actions recommended by the HQCA are already underway. All areas will be looked at including resources for inter-hospital transfers and the movement of patients between medical facilities.
Transferring EMS (a health service) to AHS (the provincial health service provider) was the right thing to do. Patient care is of paramount importance and AHS will ensure that patients continue to receive high quality, timely treatment from EMS services in all communities.
We look forward to continuing to work with the City of St. Albert leadership on improving service in the St. Albert area.
Mike Conroy, senior vice president, Edmonton Zone Dr. Sunil Sookram, medical director, Emergency Medical Services, Edmonton Zone