Nova Scotia adds nurses to Emergency Health Services 911 team

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Global News Morning Halifax: October 28
The online edition of Global News Morning with Paul Brothers and Alyse Hand on Global Halifax – Oct 28, 2022

Nova Scotia is adding nurses to the Emergency Health Services (EHS) medical communications centre team next month.

In a release, the Department of Health and Wellness said the nurses will “manage non-life-threatening calls so paramedics can focus on emergencies.”

Starting in November, those who call 911 with a health issue but don’t need paramedic assistance may be transferred to the EHS nurse who will assess the patient, plan treatment and provide medical advice.

“People calling 911 with a medical issue will be prioritized and whenever necessary an ambulance will be sent,” the release said.

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Nova Scotia’s EHS medical communications centre will be the third one in Canada to have a nurse on staff, and the first to have a nurse, a clinical support paramedic and a physician all on-site.

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Department of Health spokesperson Khalehla Perrault said in a statement that three nurses were hired for this role, with the possibility of one more being hired over time.

She said this will be a dedicated role within the communications centre, and nurses will work eight-hour shifts as part of the team, which includes a 24-hour on-site physician and a clinical support paramedic.

In a statement, Jessica Chisholm, a registered nurse with the EHS medical communications centre, said she was excited to be a part of the team.

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“What made me really want to come to this position is that it puts me in a place where I can help people at the start of their care and identify the different pathways they can access,” said Chisholm.

“It interested me to be a part of a brand new program and build it from the ground up as one of the first people in this role, which will help people get the right care at the right time.”

Kevin MacMullin, business manager with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 727, which represents paramedics, said this new position “will assist our valued paramedics in their delivery of patient care where it is needed most urgently.”

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The release noted that 911 is for medical emergencies only, and calls for health advice should be directed to 811.

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