Tuesday, February 24, 2009  
   Volume 79 - Issue 8 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week

“We’re getting into more and more stuff, and it’s time to start the younger guys.”

- Daryl Ferguson  
- on stepping down  
as Rescue chief  


On April 1, 2009, ambulance service in Alberta is scheduled to undergo a transition into provincial control, regulation, and employment. Troy Linderman, owner and operator of Crowsnest Pass EMS, has been involved in the transition process on behalf of the municipality and gave council an update on Tuesday, February 17.
Linderman told council that not much had happened in January in the transition process, but he has been assured that the April 1 deadline will be met. He indicated that negotiations between him and Alberta Health Services have gone fairly well.
“We have an agreement in principal to provide emergency medical services,” said Linderman. He anticipated making the agreement official in the near future.
The agreement, he said, is for Crowsnest Pass EMS to sign a two year contract to provide two ambulances 24/7, 365 days a year.
Currently, said Linderman, Crowsnest Pass EMS has three ambulances, running two full time and the third half the time on average, but the third ambulance is not included in the new contract with the province. “That’s a little bit of a change for the community,” he said.
One of the ambulances will be staffed by one paramedic and one EMT, he said, while the other will be staffed by two EMTs. Response time will remain the same, Linderman assured council, but there will be no third unit as backup if the other two units are busy.
In addition, he said, he could not absolutely guarantee that there would always be an ambulance in the Crowsnest Pass. Alberta Health Services, said Linderman, can shuffle its ambulances around the region as needed, and there may be times when ambulances from the Pass are called to assist in Pincher Creek or other areas, depending on the situation.
With this in mind, he recommended that the Crowsnest Pass develop a Medical First Response program. Formal policies and procedures should be put in place, he said, for our other emergency services, such as rescue, to respond to a medical situation if no EMS units are immediately available
Linderman added that Alberta Health Services is not willing to fund a Medical First Response program. Any costs associated with it will likely fall back to the municipality.
Council voted unanimously to form a committee including the Rescue department, municipal administration, and Troy Linderman to look at such a program.
“Crowsnest Pass EMS will not be participating in back country rescues any longer,” Linderman continued. He noted that the cost involved under the new procincial contract will simply be too high to bear. It will be up to other agencies, such as Rescue, to bring a back country patient out of the bush and to an ambulance.
In Line

"It scares me a little. Who do we
complain to?"

- Councillor David Cole  
In Line
Linderman added that he is encouraging his staff to volunteer with the Rescue department. That way they could be available to help with a back country rescue when they are off duty. But on-duty EMS staff will not be sent into the back country, he said.
Another change he noted involved medical oversight. Currently Crowsnest Pass EMS has a local doctor provide medical oversight, but under the new provincial system medical oversight will be handled by a zone director in Medicine Hat.
Linderman said that he is now in union contract negotiations for his EMS staff. He indicated that his staff will be well-paid under a new contract in the provincial system.
The dispatch system for EMS will also change, though Linderman noted that the exact changes haven’t been finalized yet. He said that it looks as though local ambulances will be dispatched out of Calgary. “I have no idea how that’s going to work,” he said.
The other municipal emergency services, such as fire and rescue, will no longer be dispatched on the same system as EMS.
Councillor David Cole expressed some concern over the changes and the possibility that the Pass may be left without an ambulance at some points. “It scares me a little,” he said. “Who do we complain to?”
“The flow chart on that hasn’t been established yet,” commented Linderman wryly.
He said that he was hopeful that the changes would not have that large an impact on ambulance service in the Crowsnest Pass.
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