By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
In Coaldale, does Alberta Health Services (AHS) have the right start and stop times and assemble crew times for AHS call volume, in regards to local ambulance service and service at the Coaldale Health Centre?
“Obviously, if the crew is on call at home, it’s going to take them longer to respond to that call. We’ve got to look to see, do we actually have the right start and stop times for that. But, if we change them, we’ve got to look to see how does that affect the work we help out with at the facility. Are we going to gain 20 seconds of response time but also affect the patients that are in the facility?” said Tony Pasich, who represents EMS at AHS South Zone. Pasich was part of a delegation at a recent Town of Coaldale council meeting held last month.
We live in two worlds, Pasich said — of our protective services, which is ambulance and fire and the health world.
“It’s really trying to find a balance and find out what’s looking after the patients best. A lot of that planning is going to be coming in the master service plan work. Working with municipalities, community members and local emergency services departments,” he noted.
Coaldale Emergency Services (CES) has been a first-responder at an alarming rate of medical assist calls within town and throughout the area, which has caused concern for many CES volunteers and especially for Fire Chief Andy Van Rijn, who has brought up the concern with town council and with AHS a number of times.
“We need to work with our fire departments,” Pasich said, to find out what calls fire departments want to go on and what’s best for the community and how to solve issues if fire departments feel they are going on too many calls. “Can we reduce that and still provide the patient care and what does that look like, so it takes some stress off the volunteer fire departments?”
There has been a lot of work done, Pasich explained, around the provincial medical first-response program, with how supports can be offered through training and supplies. “It’s just a matter of really engaging that conversation collaboratively,” he said.
Coun. Jacen Abrey asked the EMS rep about AHS’ aspirations to work collaboratively with local fire departments and emergency services.
“Has anybody ever stopped at our fire hall since AHS took over the ambulance transition and asked how is it going and what can we do to assist in moving this forward in a smooth transition?” Abrey asked Pasich.
“I can only answer to say – I haven’t. I will absolutely make a point of it,” answered Pasich.
It’s one of the things AHS recognizes, Pasich added, and one of the goals of AHS is to build community relationships.
“We made some great strides there but we still have a long ways to go,” said Pasich.
Abrey added the answer is no, to a representative from AHS stopping by the CES fire hall to talk shop.
“It’s unfortunate because when it was brought into AHS, they were told we will be in contact and our fire chief has not seen any staff member from AHS since,” noted Abrey.
As of the May 11 council meeting, it was reported AHS has not been in contact with CES.
Our fire chief has a lot of frustration, said Coun. Roger Hohm.
“The numbers he was sharing with us last meeting was I think 62 per cent of our calls out of Coaldale are medical assists now,” said Hohm.
Not having AHS in discussions with CES, Hohm added — there’s something wrong. “These are the guys that are taking it in the shins on the front lines. We really need that conversation to happen really soon,” Hohm said.