“We are prepared to give credit where due, but as the union representing a total of more 24,000 health professionals, including EMS, we will continue to advocate for appropriate resources to serve Albertans." — Elisabeth Ballermann, HSAA President
Edmonton (04 Jan. 2016) — New Emergency Medical Service (EMS) response-time targets set by Alberta Health Services (AHS) are a welcome start to providing a consistent province-wide measurement of Alberta’s emergency medical system, says the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE).
“For years, EMS practitioners have been advocating for clear targets against which to measure system performance,” says Michael Parker, a paramedic from Edmonton and Vice-President of HSAA, the health care union that represents more than 3,000 EMS professionals.
EMS members of HSAA/NUPGE to review new response time targets to ensure they are realistic
EMS professionals have been adamant of the need for realistic response time targets. Response times are one aspect of the multifactor "dashboard" released by AHS in December. Practitioners will be assessing the targets to ensure that they provide a realistic and meaningful measure of the quality of Alberta’s EMS system.
“When the cities of Edmonton and Calgary were responsible for ground ambulance services, the target was 6 minutes and 59 seconds,” says Parker. “Did we actually meet it? No. Will the new targets of 8 minutes and 59 seconds 50 per cent of the of the time and 12 minutes or less 90 per cent of the time in metro areas — and longer times in rural areas — deliver satisfactory quality? That remains to be seen.”
Status quo of extensive Code Red and Code Orange not acceptable
HSAA President Elisabeth Ballermann said, “The new response-time targets are all set higher than the actual performance, so it’s fair to ask whether AHS has set the bar too low. We will be working with our members to ensure that these targets do not mean we accept the status quo of frequent and extensive Code Red (no ambulances available) and Code Orange (in Edmonton and Calgary, eight or fewer ambulances available) as satisfactory.”
HSAA/NUPGE acknowledges that AHS has introduced several measures to improve the availability of ambulances to our cities. These include initiatives to get ambulances cleared from emergency departments within 90 minutes 90 per cent of the time, as well as using community paramedicine, where EMS professionals treat patients in their homes or long-term care facilities without having to transport them to hospital.
“We are prepared to give credit where due, but as the union representing a total of more 24,000 health professionals, including EMS, we will continue to advocate for appropriate resources to serve Albertans,” said Ballermann.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE