Overview

The Alberta EMS Provincial Advisory Committee was established to address the growing demand for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) across our province.

Calls to 911 have increased 30% since the spring of 2021, largely related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid crisis. This added strain leads to increased pressure on the EMS system and the people who work in it.

The advisory committee will provide immediate and long-term recommendations that will better support staff and ensure a strengthened and sustainable EMS system for Albertans needing services now and into the future.

Timeline

  • Open

  • Results under review

  • Completed

Who is listening

Ministry of Health

Mandate

The advisory committee will focus on the issues facing EMS, such as system pressures that may cause service gaps, staffing issues, and hours of work. This includes issues related to ground ambulance, air ambulance and dispatch.

Advisory committee members will also:

  • review procedures and policies related to the delivery of EMS services in the province
  • identify current and emerging issues that impact EMS service delivery in Alberta
  • develop recommended strategies or actions to address the issues
  • track progress, evaluate results and report on progress

Throughout this work, the committee will provide regular updates and recommendations to the Minister of Health to be actioned in the short-term.

The committee will submit their initial formal report to the Minister in May 2022, and a final and more detailed report with long-term recommendations in July 2022.

Get involved

Albertans are invited to email their suggestions on ways to improve EMS to [email protected].

Email submissions will be reviewed by the committee, but will not be responded to.

Advisory committee members

Co-Chairs:

  • RJ Sigurdson, MLA Highwood
  • Tracy Allard, MLA  Grande Prairie

Members:

  • Tany Yao, MLA Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo
  • Executive Director, Health Service Planning and Quality, AH
  • Provincial Director, Emergency Health Services, AH
  • Senior Leadership Representative from AHS EMS
  • Medical Director, AHS EMS
  • Representative Member of Emergency Strategic Clinical Network
  • Leadership representatives from AHS-contracted EMS providers (including a cross section of for profit, municipal, not-for-profit, Indigenous, and representing different zones across Alberta that reflect remote, rural, urban regions)
  • Leadership representative from Alberta College of Paramedics
  • Leadership representative from the Health Sciences Association of Alberta
  • Leadership representative from the International Association of Fire Fighters
  • Leadership representative from the Alberta Paramedic Association
  • Representative from Public Post-Secondary Institution that offers paramedic education
  • Member of the Rural Municipalities Association
  • Member of Alberta Municipalities
  • Leadership representatives from First Nations Communities
  • Leadership representative from a Metis Community
  • Patient Family Advisory member

Outcomes

The committee’s work, combined with actions already in progress, will improve EMS capacity in the coming months and will help inform a 5 to 10 Year EMS Service Plan for the province. The service plan is currently in development by AHS, in collaboration with the department, and is expected to be completed by September 2022.

Additional actions to address EMS pressures

AHS 10-point plan

Alberta Health Services (AHS) has a 10-point plan to add capacity to EMS and ensure the most critical patients receive immediate care.

Actions currently underway:

  1. developing a strategic provincial service plan for EMS delivery in the province
  2. hiring more paramedics
  3. launching pilot projects to manage non-emergency inter-facility transfers
  4. initiating an ‘hours of work’ project to help ease staff fatigue
  5. transferring low priority calls to other agencies in consultation with EMS physicians
  6. stopping the automatic dispatch of ambulances to motor vehicle collisions that don’t have injuries
  7. completing an evaluation by an emergency communications officer to determine if an ambulance from out of area, though it may be closest to a 911 call, is most appropriate to respond

Actions to be rolled out soon:

  1. creating a new integrated operations centre in Calgary
  2. implementing a pilot project in Red Deer that will manage most patient transfers between facilities with dedicated transfer units, freeing up ambulances to handle emergency calls
  3. allowing ambulances to be pre-empted from assignments, instead of being automatically dispatched when a 911 call is received, to ensure more ambulances are available for critical patients

EMS dispatch system review

In February, the province will issue a request for proposals to conduct an independent review of Alberta’s provincewide EMS dispatch system. This will provide further opportunities to identify and address ongoing pressures, and improve effectiveness and efficiency.

The request for proposal will be listed here when available.

News

Last updated: February 7, 2022