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Rural Sask. communities call for support after EMS expansion announced in Regina, Saskatoon

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Regina will soon have two additional ambulances on the road with a full complement of staff. Now other communities in Saskatchewan are calling for more support.

“We know that communities across this province have talked and complained with the provincial government many, many times about the lack of service that we’re seeing in some of the areas outside of Regina,” Randy Goulden, President of SUMA, told CTV News.

In addition to the expansion of services in Regina, Saskatoon will also be receiving funds to staff three more ambulances. While 70 paramedic and first responder positions will be added to 27 communities across Saskatchewan, according to the province.

Minister of Health Paul Merriman said the new positions will also be complimented by a ‘treat and release’ program, aimed at reducing congestion in emergency rooms.

“EMTs would be able to call in and consult with a doctor and do a virtual triage to be able to say ‘this is what we’re seeing’ and they can make that decision.” Merriman explained.

“That would be the attending [physician’s] decision to be able to A, bring them into the emergency room and B, be able to perform what they can on site, get in to see their family doctor the next day,” he added.

In smaller centres, such as Cupar, paramedics have expressed concern about long wait times at emergency rooms when dropping off patients.

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In some instances, emergency personnel have waited up to eight hours.

“We’re waiting for a room to open up while doctors see other people. They can’t take us first because we are an ambulance. They go by triage,” Dustin Cappelle of Cupar EMS told CTV News.

The provincial government has said that it plans to deal with ER congestion by setting aside certain areas to receive ambulance patients.

This system is meant to allow EMS crews to get back on the road quickly to the next emergency.

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