Dean's Platform

Calgary EMS

I received the email below from a very concerned person about her mother who is living in Calgary. Sadly this is not the only email I have received on this subject.

Hello Dean! My mom is interested in knowing what your thoughts and policies are with regard to seniors as she has major concerns about the way ambulances are being deployed.

What is happening?

Our city’s paramedics are absolutely exhausted and overrun. In conjunction with the additional challenges the pandemic has brought, the way EMS is structured currently is NOT working. Our city only recently moved to a central deployment command strategy and this has lengthened reaction times – not shortened them. Our present Mayor brought this to the attention of the premier months ago without any great impact. 

EMS are constantly on “red alert” meaning there are no ambulances available to respond to emergencies. It is a fact that EMS are regularly working overtime to ensure calls are responded to and as a result staff rarely have down time between calls. 

This results in high levels of burnout. The reality of the situation is that if a Calgarian calls an ambulance they may have to wait over 40 minutes before a unit arrives from the other side of the city or a nearby rural community. Our city needs to address this problem now and we need more medics hired into new lines.

It is my opinion that the primary function of any municipal government is to protect the lives and property of all Calgary citizens. Our present municipal government has been failing. Council should have been reaching out to our provincial government to have extra medics hired into permanent lines within our city. 

Then the 15 or so ambulances that have been sitting redundant in our district bases could have been filled and operating on our streets. It seems to me that possibly the AHS may have for some reason capped the amount of medics hired in our city into a regular schedule during the COVID pandemic. If this was the case I find that totally irresponsible. 

This counsel should have done more to resolve this issue. Our present Mayor and council cannot keep relying upon the fire department to cover when it comes to 911 calls for EMS. This situation has been going on for far too long and things need to change. This council needs to become proactive and address the situation.

Now let’s focus on long term care facilities in our city. The fastest way to get ambulances back on the streets is to have more long term care facilities. When Ambulances go to the ER they cannot give up the patient if there are no beds and there are no beds because there are patients waiting to go into long term care and they cannot be placed there because there are no beds i.e. there is a shortage of long term care facilities.

What should be happening?

How are we going to make that happen?

If you elect me as your Mayor, I will be having closed door meetings with a number of high ranking city EMS managers to obtain a clear picture facing our city. I will be advising the new council should I be given the opportunity that we as a council need to do more for the protection of our citizens and that needs taking the gloves off and confronting the provincial government on the topic of increasing the hiring of medics to immediately fill all our ambulances that are standing redundant in district bases in our city, second for the provincial government to provide immediate funding for a number of long term care facilities within our city limits so that our ambulances can successfully get back on the streets within a reasonable time frame. 

During my campaign period should anyone with EMS like a chat (off the record) in person or email me then my door is open. I really do need a full overview of what is happening in the trenches. I do have a number of good friends who are EMS so have quite a deep understanding of the current situation. EMS is high on my priority list regarding staffing, unit availability and pay. I will also be looking at the mental health initiatives that EMS command has in place. If I say I am going to do something about the lack of EMS in our city then I will do something about it.

The province holds the cards when it comes to matters regarding EMS and the construction and staffing of long term care facilities, but with sound reasoning and having all the facts, it may help sway the premiers and our health minister’s stance on the AHS medic hiring situation. All of our citizens should not have to worry about EMS not turning up at their homes in a time or whether they will have to wait for a bed to be admitted to the ER.

I fully support and empathize with our EMS and understand the mental trauma and constant frustration they are exposed to on a daily basis. They need our support today, not 6 months from now. I was, for a period of time during my military career, a combat medic and was also exposed to mental trauma. This is one of my driving motivations in providing municipal government support to our EMS. I will be relentless in my efforts until this issue is resolved.