February 9, 2015 9:37 pm

Anonymous paramedics tweet when no ambulances are available in Alberta


CALGARY – An anonymous group of paramedics is behind a Twitter account that tweets when areas of Alberta are experiencing a Code Red.  Using the Twitter handle @StatusCodeRed, the group tweets when areas have no ambulances available for dispatch.

A Feb. 7 tweet shows none were available in Edmonton:

And later:

The account has also posted photos of computer screens with dispatch information indicating lengthy response times.  The group behind the campaign has blurred some information to protect the identities of  crews involved in the calls, as well as patient information.

The same group has also created a Facebook group called,  “Alberta EMS Code Red,” which invites those on the front lines to participate in the campaign.

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“If you are a member of the EMS community and wish to contribute, please be aware and cautious of what you post. If you wish to contribute to the Twitter account please email us: alertstatusred@hotmail.com and we will send you a list of information we are looking for and ways to protect your identity.”

Global News reached out to the group for an interview, but fearful of exposure, questions were answered only by email.

When asked who was behind this social media initiative, the group replied: “AHS EMS has demonstrated a vindictive and vexatious approach to any whistle blowers.  In order to protect the anonymity of the founders of this initiative we cannot divulge who or how many are involved.  We can say that the Twitter page was formed by paramedics and EMTs in the EMS Community.”

READ MORE: Code Red Part 1 – Paramedics warn of lengthening response times

“With a sustained combined Twitter and Facebook campaign we hope to expose the truth and realize the changes necessary towards establishing an effective and efficient ambulance service both in terms of patient care and in terms of fiscal responsibility,” said the group.

The union respresenting Alberta EMS, the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, has no involvement in the social media campaign, but president Elisabeth Ballermann said she’s not surprised to see paramedics risking their jobs to bring information to light.

READ MORE: Code Red Part 2 – Paramedics ring alarm bells; call Edmonton a ‘vortex’

“This is reflecting the concern that our members have that they can’t provide the services that we should be able to provide in Alberta,” Ballermann said in a telephone interview Monday from Peace River. "They're frustrated enough to put this out publicly."

Alberta Health Services responded to the social media campaign in a written statement.

“The term ‘red alert’ is used to refer to a point in time when all transport ambulances in a geographical area are busy helping patients,” said AHS EMS Chief Paramedic Darren Sandbeck in the statement. “These situations are usually over within seconds or minutes and EMS will always respond to emergencies by repositioning units from other communities, deferring non-urgent transfers, deploying supervisors or using single paramedic response units to provide care until an ambulance is available for transport. We know some front line staff are frustrated with system pressures.   Leadership, across Alberta Health Services, is listening to concerns and working with staff to help find ways to improve our ability to provide high quality care to patients, when and where they need it.”

READ MORE: Code Red Part 3 -Trying to fix Alberta’s ambulance woes

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