St. Paul is reaping the benefits from the province’s announcement to add EMS staff to specific locations across Alberta.
In December, the province announced that four additional EMS staff would be funded in St. Paul amongst a total of 88 added positions in eight communities, mainly urban centers like Edmonton and Calgary.
The added positions in St. Paul have helped improve service, said Terry Boettcher, general manager Prairie EMS.
“In our opinion, it’s having a real impact on staff and public safety,” said Boettcher.
“What that does for us in the community for our staff and our patients and partners is make that ambulance a lot more accessible.”
The added positions meant Prairie EMS could move away from a coreflex model on one ambulance and go to an assembled 12-hour car for day and night shifts.
The coreflex model can be undesirable because it demands a fatigue management policy to manage the workload for these on-call EMS workers, who are potentially working 24 hours in a row, said Boettcher.
“Now with the 12-hour shift pattern, those staff are cycling out every 12 hours. We can use that resource as the primary response and the other two ambulances that are full-time are still on the coreflex and they’re in a support capacity more than they used to.
“We’re able to protect them from fatigue and utilize that 12-hour car as the primary response. We’ve seen a real improvement in the availability in the community as well as the reduction in fatigue incidents,” said Boettcher.
St. Paul runs three ambulances and one wheelchair accessible handibus for low-acuity patients.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Bonnyville EMS were seeing staff leave due to the province’s increases elsewhere.
But St. Paul has benefitted from the additional four members.
“I’ll say too, this has been a collaborative effort with AHS. We’ve had concerns about the staffing level and the risks of fatigue…and we’ve worked with AHS in the past number of years to understand and identify those.
“We really appreciate the partnership with AHS to be able to address that in this appointment. We were quite excited to be part of the announcement. It really culminates years of hard work,” said Boettcher.
Prairie EMS operates the contract with AHS in Fort Saskatchewan, Lamont and Andrew, Two Hills, Saddle Lake, Elk Point, Vermilion and St. Paul.