A pair of ambulances outside the ambulance bay beside the emergency department at Red Deer Regional Hospital. (File photo by ADVOCATE staff)

Alberta hiring more paramedics and buying new ambulances, none for Red Deer

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer is not concerned the provincial government didn’t announce more paramedics and new ambulances for the city Friday.

The Alberta government announced the province is adding 58 first responders in Edmonton and Calgary to go with more than 30 new hires in smaller centres, including Sylvan Lake.

There will be new ambulances or extended ambulance hours in smaller centres along with 15 new ambulances in Edmonton and Calgary.

Sylvan Lake will add four new EMS staff members and will receive expanded hours for five ambulances.

No new ambulance deployment or EMS staff was announced for Red Deer, but Veer said it’s premature to say that Red Deer will not get provincial help to improve front-line medical care in the near future.

“We provide integrated service and we are still in contract negotiations,” said Veer. “There’s additional money for ambulances and we take that as a cue that AHS will hopefully also fund new ambulances for Red Deer.”

Veer said Red Deer needs more ambulances and staff.

“We fully expect there will be additional ambulances for Red Deer for the integrated service, and the staff and financial support to ensure advanced life support ambulances are available.

“If that doesn’t come into fruition we will be elevating that concern before the ministry,” she said.

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said the province is also expanding home care that allows paramedics to treat vulnerable people and seniors where they live, rather than having them go to hospitals.

The changes are being paid for by an extra $29 million included in this year’s budget.

“We know timely access can save lives,” Hoffman said at a news conference Friday. “Albertans want to know that when they or their loved ones are in need of care in the face of emergencies, that they won’t have to wait.”

Hoffman says there will also be 16 liaison officers for hospitals in Edmonton and Calgary to help paramedics when they deliver patients.

There are about 3,000 EMS workers in Alberta.

With the $29 million boost, the budget for emergency medical services this year is $524 million.

–With files from The Canadian Press

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