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Alberta adding 20 ambulances for Edmonton, Calgary peak hours as part of EMS reforms

EDMONTON — Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping says the province plans to add 20 more ambulances to Edmonton and Calgary during peak hours and implement other reforms to reduce bottlenecks hampering front-line care.

Copping says the province will also set a target of 45 minutes for off-loading patients at emergency wards and establish a policy so paramedics don’t have to wait at hospitals with patients when ambulance availability is low.

These changes are on top of previously announced initiatives, including fast-tracking patient transfers at emergency wards by moving less urgent cases to waiting areas and contracting out non-emergency patient transfers to free up ambulances.

The changes stem from recommendations made by an advisory panel exploring ways to reduce pressures on ambulances that are causing a domino effect of long wait times and overcrowding in the system.

Copping says the government will act on all recommendations in the report, which states EMS workers are being stretched beyond their limits and more remote areas are being penalized as scarce resources are pulled into the larger centres.

Copping also released a second report that says centralized ambulance dispatch is not hampering the system but, like other areas, is constrained by high demand on existing resources.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2023.

The Canadian Press