November 19th, 2018

Lack of adequate EMS support is the key issue

By Letter to the Editor on July 10, 2018.

I would like to offer a response to Chief Paramedic Sandbeck, June 27 Herald letter to the editor, entitled, “Patient care top priority for EMS.”

I suspect his words were in response to the coverage in The Herald of my recent talk to the Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs.

Whenever there is media coverage about EMS, we get the same old lame comments from Alberta Health: “how much they care for the medics and what great care they provide.” That is not the issue. The issue is the lack of meaningful support to these medics.

And the blah, blah, blah, about “we’re monitoring it. We’re looking into what happened. We’re working on it. Our borderless system. You will get the closest ambulance, and we always have an ambulance available to respond.”

How well did that work for the lady in Airdrie, a couple of days ago, who fell and broke both legs and waited 45 minutes for an ambulance? How well did that work for the Calgary cardiac arrest patient with the ambulance dispatched from Vulcan?

He can attempt to appease the public but it is a slap in the face to all the medics because we all know better. We know that available ambulance may be 100 kilometres away. We know your “small fleet of medical transport vans” don’t come anywhere near making a dent in the misuse of emergency ambulances being tasked with routine, non-emergent transfers, leaving vast areas of the province without adequate, or any, ambulance coverage. We know that so many ambulance crews are tied up waiting in hospital hallways for hours on end and unable to respond, resulting in daily “Code Reds.”

He contradicts himself by acknowledging ambulances are relocated to other communities to “ensure the closest ambulance responds, and ensure communities are never left without emergency coverage.” What? You just sent the ambulance from my town to cover in another. And I am left with …? We owe a debt of gratitude to the fire departments for responding and looking after patients until we show up with that elusive ambulance.

No one in AHS is willing to stand up and do the right thing for patient care and for the medics that keep this ship afloat as best they can.

EMS is in crisis and at the breaking point. But, after nine years, they are “working on it.” And, head pats for all the beloved medics. Comforting.

George Porter


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2 Responses to “Lack of adequate EMS support is the key issue”

  1. biff says:

    this is a real eye opener. but, before the usual blame it on the lefties start up, this is an issue that began well before the ndp – it was engineered by the pc. as the issue has not been addressed, i see yet another example of how the ndp is not even close to being a socialist gov’t, but just another copy of the redford pc, unwilling to provide leadership that actually benefits the tax paying masses. let’s see, ralph gave us 400 bucks…the ndp light bulbs. the wonder of it all that people still vote for this scam that pretends to be representative and democratic gov’t.

  2. George McCrea says:

    Without following biffs hate conservative diatribes and NDP lovefest one of the major issues is that EMS once at the emergency wards CANNOT be released to duty until the hospital staff takes care and control of incoming patients. This can result in numerous ambulances and EMS staff tied up at hospitals for hours in some cases. Further an example where an ambulance from Vulcan was utilized I believe to take a patient to an eye appointment in Calgary. This is a major management issue and needs to be addressed ASAP.

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