New mobile paramedic program starts in Red Deer

Paramedics provide on-site care to those with chronic conditions

It’s been over a week since a new community mobile paramedic program rolled out in Red Deer, and the team has already received more than 20 calls.

On Tuesday, the province announced the $11-million expansion of its mobile paramedic program to communities outside of Calgary and Edmonton.

The new paramedic team in Red Deer, which started working Feb. 12, is made up of five full-time members who man three units – SUV-type vehicles to carry advanced equipment for assessment and treatment.

They provide on-site care to seniors and others with chronic conditions, at continuing care centres, reducing the use of ambulance transport, acute care beds and hospital resources.

Dale Weiss, executive director for EMS for north sector with AHS said, seniors’ home and continuing care centres in Red Deer will now call the community paramedic team, when someone needs non-emergent type help, instead of calling 911.

If the patient is deemed to be in an emergency, the call would be transferred to a traditional paramedic instead.

Weiss said a community paramedic member is different from a traditional one because they provide treatment right on site instead of taking the patient to the hospital.

He said the need for such a service exists in almost every community in the province.

Weiss said there was a gap in service, before the program came to Red Deer. He said people were delaying their ask for help and then having emergent needs.

Weiss said last year community paramedics helped close to 15,000 patients in Edmonton and Calgary. More than 90 per cent of those people did not have to go to the hospital.

“So if we can duplicate those numbers in Red Deer, I would expect it would have some impact to them (hospital),” said Weiss.

The paramedic team connects with physicians to understand patient concern before proceeding with a treatment plan. They are trained in wound treatment, diagnostics, electrocardiograms, IV treatments and blood transfusions.

Teams were added to home and continuing care patients to other regions including Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Camrose/Wetaskiwin, Grande Prairie and Peace River.

The expansion will add 20 full-time community paramedics to the 30 already working in Calgary and Edmonton. These new paramedics will work out of call centres in Calgary and Edmonton to provide specialized support for vulnerable Albertans throughout the province.

“When we help Albertans avoid stressful trips to the emergency department, everyone wins. These paramedics are effective and compassionate frontline workers, helping Albertans get the right care at the right time, right in their own homes,” Brandy Payne, Associate Minister of Health, in a release.

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