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January 15, 2016
For immediate release
Emergency health services enhanced by new dispatch technology and additional ambulance
Health and Wellness
“Government has made major investments to expand the ground ambulance fleet, reduce response times and improve services offered in the ambulance,” said Minister Henderson. “Now we are investing in important technology that allows us to monitor ambulance activity at any given time and strategically locate ambulances so Islanders have the best possible access to services.”
The new Computer Assisted Dispatch (CAD) software captures the geo-locations of all active ambulances across the province at any given time, as well as response times, call volumes and the nature of calls. Previously, much of this information was gathered using manual processes, making it difficult to adjust and move resources to where they are needed in real time.
Minister Henderson advised that an additional ambulance will become operational in early February. It will be located in St. Peter’s and the surrounding area. “This will give Eastern Kings residents access to another ambulance and it will mean that the existing ambulance in Souris will be less likely to be pulled out to respond to other calls. As a result, residents in Souris and surrounding communities will have a higher level of ambulance support and improved response times.”
The demand for emergency health services continues to rise steadily across the province. The number of 9-1-1 calls requiring an ambulance response doubled since 2008, increasing from 6,000 pre-hospital calls in 2008 to 12,000 this past year.
Today, the average provincial ambulance response time is 9 minutes and 46 seconds, which is a significant improvement over 2011 when the response in rural areas was 22 to 27 minutes, and similar to the urban response time of nine minutes five years ago.
Response times in December 2015 were fairly consistent across the province, ranging on average from 8 minutes and 15 seconds to 13 minutes and 36 seconds.
“We continue to work closely with Island EMS to improve ambulance response times and allow paramedics to take on a bigger role in delivering emergency health care to Islanders pre-hospital,” said Dr. Scott Cameron, Chair of the Emergency Medical Services Board. “The addition of this new technology will provide us with robust data so that we can better understand the emergency health needs of Islanders – who needs it, what they need and when they need it – so that we can adjust our services accordingly, bringing resources to the scenes of emergencies more rapidly and efficiently.”
“Together, with the support of the provincial government, we are committed to creating meaningful solutions that improve health care outcomes and patient care across Prince Edward Island," said Darcy Clinton, General Manager with Island EMS. “Analytics are important - with the new dispatch system, our highly trained team will continue to supplement traditional primary and emergency care, now with the data to further ensure we are providing the right care, at the right place, at the right time.”
Average response times (in minutes) for each of the six coverage zones, as collected through the CAD system for October through December 2015, are:
· Souris area: 97 calls with an average response time of 10:16
· Montague area: 249 calls with an average response time of 9:55
· Charlottetown area: 1,372 calls with an average response time of 7:34
· Summerside area: 538 calls with an average response time of 8:19
· O’Leary area: 156 calls with an average response time of 9:16
· Alberton area: 195 calls with an average response time of 11:47
The top five most common ambulance call types for the province during this same period are general malaise, falls, breathing problems, chest pain and traffic collisions.
Government, in partnership with Health PEI and Island EMS, has made significant investments in the ground ambulance program over the past years, including:
· eliminating out of province ambulance fees for islanders (2008)
· adding coverage hours (2009)
· eliminating emergency fee for seniors 65+ (2009)
· extending hours in Kings County and West Prince (2011)
· adding two rural rapid response units – one to Kings County and one to West Prince (2013)
· adding two ambulance transfer units (2013)
· eliminating the hospital-to-hospital transfer fee for patients (2013)