Documentary reveals Albertans have lost confidence in EMS system

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) President Mike Parker reacts to last night’s airing of a CTV Documentary on the crisis in emergency medical services (EMS) in Alberta.

EDMONTON – HSAA is calling for transparency and accountability from AHS/EMS management and the UCP following the CTV News documentary, Broken System: The EMS Crisis in Alberta.

The documentary highlighted a question being asked by friends and family who sat with their injured or dying children, partners and neighbors waiting for help to arrive: would a faster response time have made a difference?

“That’s the question our members are asking themselves every day,” said Mike Parker, President of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) that represents paramedics working for Alberta Health Services (AHS).

“Emergency communications officers worry about that patient they had to disconnect from to take another call as they stacked up. They are stressed when they don’t have a crew to send to an emergency but are told to inform callers that one is on its way. Paramedics know what each minute of a long response will mean for a patient’s chances of recovery as they drive across a city knowing they are the only available ambulance – this stress is emotionally crushing.”

HSAA members are risking their careers to expose the state of the EMS system in Alberta. The government must direct AHS to:

  • Report the number and duration of red alerts across Alberta.
  • Report in detail on incidents where ambulances were not immediately available for high priority calls.
  • Provide a confidential means for our members and Albertans to report incidents where they feel lack of ambulance availability impacted patient care.

“We need to come clean with Albertans about the state of their emergency medical services,” concluded Parker. “Albertans need to be able to see how bad the situation is and be given the means to report these incidents so that they are acted on. As we heard, ‘there are many, many more stories.’”

Parker also expressed his deep appreciation, on behalf of all HSAA members, to the friends and  family members who shared their tragic stories. “They have come forward to raise the alarm about the state of EMS and share how long wait times played a role in the delayed care or death of their loved ones. We owe them our gratitude for setting aside their grief and revealing that.”