Over 20 EMS positions to be added in Regina: province
The Government of Saskatchewan announced it will be adding 24.5 full-time equivalent positions to Regina EMS.
“We’ve heard from residents and paramedics that we need to do more to improve ambulance response times,” Health Minister Paul Merriman said in a news release.
The positions will be phased in over the next three months, according to the province.
“We’ve seen the pressures that are in Regina and Saskatoon, we want to alleviate some of those pressures," Merriman told CTV News on Wednesday.
"But it’s not just boots on the ground, that’s a critical piece, its also about creating some efficiencies within the emergency room, within the hospital, so those paramedics when they do come in and bring a patient, they can turn that patient around quickly and get back out on the road and address the next call.”
In reference to the issue of offload delays, Merriman said pilot programs such as “treat and release” in Saskatoon are offering potential solutions.
The "treat and release" program allows paramedics to arrive on a scene, consult with a doctor and treat a patient while giving them a continuum of care to follow up with a physician.
Karen Wasylenko, President of the Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan, was cautiously optimistic following the announcement.
“Well this is certainly a positive piece of news,” she told CTV News. “We’re pleased that understaffing has been recognized as a significant issue and its being addressed. Having said that, we also have to recognize that in addition to the understaffing in Regina EMS that there’s still quite a few understaffing issues in rural but this is a good step forward.”
When asked what effect the increase in staffing would have on Regina EMS, Wasylenko reiterated that only time will tell.
“I think we’re going to have to wait and see how this comes into the operations, how the SHA improves the services with these numbers and again we’ll have to wait and see if this is going to do the job.”
According to the province, EMS call volumes in Regina increased by over 14 per cent from 2020-2021 to 2021-2022.
This equals almost 27,000 calls answered in 2020-2021 and almost 31,000 calls in 2021-2022.
The new positions will help to staff two more ambulances in Regina in addition to two additional smaller paramedic response units.
Two new EMS coordinators will also be hired to support paramedics throughout the province.
The expansion of service will be funded by the existing EMS budget within the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) for a total cost of $2.4 million annually.
NDP MLA and Health Critic Vicki Mowat released a statement calling for more action on the issue of EMS service following the province's announcement.
“Simply posting a few jobs online is only the first step and Premier Moe should not be patting himself on the back until the job is actually done," the statement read.
"While this first step might improve service in Regina, we know the issues in our ambulance system are province-wide and system-wide reform is needed.”
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