June 20, 2014 8:14 pm
Updated: June 20, 2014 8:58 pm

Edmonton paramedics sound alarm over ambulance response times


 Watch above: Paramedics are speaking out, saying they’re concerned that AHS officials don’t have any wait time targets. Laurel Gregory explains.

EDMONTON – Some Edmonton paramedics are sounding an alarm over a recent memo to staff that indicates Alberta Health Services does not have a target for EMS response times.

The memo (which can be read below) was sent to all Edmonton Metro EMS staff on June 5 from the Director of EMS Clinical Operations and the Director of EMS Quality & Patient Safety.

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It was sent after paramedics submitted a number of reports of long EMS response times.

“AHS does not have a response time target; instead, we monitor response times and investigate variability or significant changes to determine cause and intervene as needed. There are several reports that monitor response times that range from daily to quarterly in frequency and include both municipal and service level statistics,” the memo reads.

One paramedic spoke with Global News on the condition of anonymity.

“When we read between the lines from the memo that was given to us. It says to us that response times just don’t matter so please don’t report them or report the long events anymore.”

According to Vickie Kaminski, AHS president and CEO, an eight to nine minute response time was once seen as the benchmark, but that was before paramedics were highly trained and worked out of a so-called emergency department on wheels.

READ MORE: Alberta will seek more municipal input on ambulance services

Alberta’s Health Minister Fred Horne says he’s baffled such a statement would be made in the internal document.

“I don’t think Albertans want a system that doesn’t measure a factor as critical as how long it takes. So what I’ve done is I’ve asked Vickie Kaminsk, who is the new CEO of AHS, to talk to the management that were responsible for the memo and to talk to staff.”

Kaminski says she plans to meet with paramedics in focus groups over the next eight weeks to come up with a suitable response time target.

According to AHS, the average response time for life-threatening events is about seven minutes in Edmonton and Calgary.

Read the memo below:



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