We need ALS STAT, says group

By Geoff Lee

January 7, 2016 9:27 AM

A seniors’ group has picked up the gauntlet and is leading the charge to get better ambulance service for all in the the Border City.
Lloydminster Concerned Citizens for Seniors Care Society wants to ratchet up local support to bring advanced life support (ALS) paramedic service to the city, something Lloydminster has desperately needed for more than a decade, said the seniors’ lobby group head, Graham Brown.
“The need for an increased level of ambulance service has been identified for some time and organizations that would implement the service have been negotiating for a number of months and still nothing,” said Brown.
“We believe people’s lives are being put at risk every day because of lack of paramedic service.”
The seniors’ group recently launched a media campaign that is urging residents to contact ministers of health in Saskatchewan and Alberta and MLAs to make it happen.
Brown said when somebody calls for an ambulance and EMTs arrive and complications happen, the outcomes usually aren’t good.
“And then we say if there had been someone with a higher standard of training at that call, there would that have been a lot better outcome,” he said.
“So that’s important.”
WPD Ambulance currently provides Emergency Medical Technician, or EMT, service to the city in separate contracts with Alberta Health Services and Prairie North Health Region in North Battleford.
ALS paramedics provide a higher level of services than EMTs can do.
While EMTs are limited in the care they can provide, ALS paramedics can basically do anything a general practitioner can do, including intubation and the delivery of narcotics.
Chris Thiele, director of emergency health services at PNHR, said they are working very closely on the issue with Alberta Health.
He noted there’s two contracts, two government agencies and a lot of steps that need to happen before both contracts can be signed.
“Notable progress is being made,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday morning.
“There’s been some positive developments in the middle of December before Christmas.”
Theile said PNHR is doing its share of the work that’s needed in Saskatchewan to make that happen.
“It is our desire to work towards it,” he said.
“Our priority is ensuring residents of Lloydminster, and surrounding area, have access to high quality ambulance care whenever and wherever they need it,” said Alberta Health Services’ chief paramedic, Darren Sandbeck.
“We are working with Prairie North Regional Health Authority and WPD, our contract ambulance provider, to add advance life-support/paramedic level service to the community as soon as possible.”
Thiele said PNHR has made a commitment with Alberta Health to work collaboratively in their approach to providing emergency medical services.
Brown said the bi-provincial aspects of our city likely leads to a lot of details about who does what in particular behind the scenes.
“Just do the deal and get it signed however you do it, and let’s have the service,” he said.
“Every day you don’t have paramedics you’re putting people’s lives at risk.”
Walter Dutchak, owner operator of WPD Ambulance based in North Battleford, agreed people in the Lloydminster region are not being serviced adequately without ALS.
“They need a higher level and there are many cases where a paramedic could have made a difference in people’s lives and well being,” he said.
“That’s why I am so excited to provide paramedic service in Lloydminster.”
Brown says seniors are frustrated knowing a bi-provincial Health Services Committee set up two years ago to address the unique health service needs in our city has not found a way to create a seamless paramedic service for residents.
“That committee is supposed to take issues that don’t get solved and get them solved,” he said.
Brown said everybody seems to be in agreement about what the outcome will be.
“But here we are months later still waiting for that agreement to be signed,” he said.
WPD currently provides paramedic service to much smaller communities in the PNHR such as Rostern and North Battleford.
Based on the larger population of Lloydminster Ducthak said he’s surprised we don’t have it here.
“The more support the seniors get the better off they’ll be for getting paramedics in Lloydminster,” said Dutchak.
“I hope it receives coverage in your paper— it’s an important issue because people will benefit from it.”
Brown said advance life support is needed to deliver patients to Lloydminster Hospital and for transfers to other facilities.
He said if there is a transfer needed today, residents have to make other arrangements.
“That has happened in the past where we’ve called someone from Vermilion for the transfer or we’ve had doctors ride in the ambulance to make sure the person got there,” said Brown.

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