Monday, December 4, 2017

Stier brings rural emergency medical services concerns to legislature

On Monday afternoon December 4 Livingstone Macleod MLA Pat Stier spoke in the Alberta Legislature on the subject of rural emergency medical services, reproduced here as recorded in the Alberta Hansard:

"For over five and a half years I and other members of this House have been raising serious concerns regarding the vast array of problems with the rural ambulance system. Despite constant complaints by residents, elected officials, and EMS paramedics, patients across Alberta continue to feel the impact because of this failed system. Ambulance time wasted on nonemergency transfers, flexing of units into other communities, paramedics needlessly tied up for hours in emergency departments, units not being returned to their home regions, and faulty centralized dispatch protocols continue to plague the system."

"These problems were emphasized once again recently, when on November 15, 2017, a number of Alberta paramedics came to the Legislature in desperation, claiming that the number of events that led to emergency calls has increased nearly 36 per cent since 2009 while the population of Alberta has increased by more than 15 per cent, yet we have virtually the same number of ambulances. They added that resources have been stretched to the breaking point."

"Injured and sick Albertans are paying the price for the lack of resources as they wait for help to arrive. Paramedics also pay the price with increased stress and mental health injuries."

"Over the years several significant reports have been conducted on these problems, including that of the Health Quality Council of Alberta, Rural Health Services Review Committee, the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties, the central Alberta municipalities group, and the southern paramedics that produced the suburban-rural EMS deployment review. Yet this government ignores all of this. It's time to give our paramedics the resources they need, that we return to local dispatch, that we stop the practice of using ambulances as taxis, that ambulances are released from emergency rooms within an hour and are then mandatorily returned to their home regions."

Stier concluded with a plug for the UCP.  "These are solutions that United Conservatives will continue to advocate for. We will fight tirelessly to put Albertans first and fix these critical ambulance problems once and for all."

Related video: Stier speaking on the topic of emergency medical dispatch services during a May 2017 Question Period in the legislature.

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