The large emergency response to a medical crisis involving over a dozen patients, mostly children, has once again sparked questions about the staffing and resources of EMS in the Calgary area.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) and EMS said 10 children and four adults were taken to hospital from the Stoney Nakoda First Nation Wednesday with “flu-like symptoms” after emergency responders were called about children in medical distress.
Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann said in a release Thursday the “Morley medical crisis may have put Calgary patients at risk due to EMS resources stretched beyond capacity.”
“Generally speaking, in an emergency planning situation, you leave one third of your capacity relatively flexible so they can respond to a disaster,” Swann told reporters on Thursday. “We don’t have nearly that capacity; we are already stretched to the maximum.”
LISTEN: Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann elaborates on Calgary Today
In the release, Swann said six ambulances arrived at a house on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation on Wednesday; two from Stoney Nakoda, two from Calgary, one from Kananaskis and one from Priddis.
EMS confirmed five ambulances attended — two from Stoney Nakoda, two from Calgary and one from Kananaskis. They added one unit from Priddis was initially called but stood down.
WATCH: Footage from our Global1 helicopter shows multiple emergency crews on scene of what appears to be a residence on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation.
A four-month-old child, who RCMP identified as a girl, died at the residence. Her autopsy is set for Friday.
Ten other children taken to hospital at the same time were reported to be in stable condition, including a two-year-old girl who was determined to be in serious condition when paramedics arrived, according to RCMP. The girl remained in serious but stable condition Thursday night.
EMS clarified in a Thursday update that only two young adults were admitted to hospital, while two other adults “arrived at the hospital by private vehicle, not as patients.”
RCMP also said Thursday that two adult siblings of the child who died had been released from hospital.
“Patient care was not compromised as a result of Wednesday’s emergency response to the Stoney Nakoda First Nation,” executive director for Calgary Zone EMS Randy Bryska said in an emailed statement.
“It is expected that any unplanned large-scale event can have a temporary impact to resource availability.”
“Our system responded exactly as it should in an unexpected surge situation by bringing in additional resources to support the temporary increase in demand.”
Alberta Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman told reporters Thursday the government is working to get more resources for paramedics.
“We are working to get them more tools and to keep them out of emergency rooms and on the road,” Hoffman said.
WATCH: Officials are still working to confirm what caused the death of a baby, and the hospitalization of 14 others, on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation.