Community Paramedic Teams Expand Across Alberta

More seniors and vulnerable Albertans will receive care where they live, thanks to increased paramedic supports throughout the province.

Associate Health Minister Brandy Payne announced a major expansion of community paramedic supports throughout Alberta. L-R: Brandy Payne, MLA Graham Sucha, Barb Ferguson, executive director, Alzheimer’s Society Calgary, Lisa McQuaid, community paramedic, Darren Sandbeck, AHS EMS chief paramedic, Dale Weiss, executive director, North Sectoe EMS Operations and, in front, patient Yvonne Routledge.

Mobile community paramedics provide on-site care to seniors and other Albertans with chronic conditions, reducing the use of ambulance transport, acute care beds and hospital resources.

An $11-million expansion of the program will add 20 full-time community paramedics to the 30 already working in Calgary and Edmonton. These new paramedics will work out of dedicated call centres in Calgary and Edmonton to provide specialized support for vulnerable Albertans throughout the province.

Another 26 paramedics will form new teams for home and continuing care patients in Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Camrose/Wetaskiwin, Grande Prairie and Peace River.

“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

More than 90 per cent of patients referred to community paramedics can be treated on-site, as needed or on a regularly scheduled basis. Community paramedics are trained in sutures and wound treatment, diagnostics and electrocardiograms, IV treatments and blood transfusions. Paramedics consult with each patient’s doctor, but are also supported by on-call physicians.

“At 96, ongoing medical care is just part of life. What this program does is makes that care way easier and less stressful. The paramedics are excellent and I’m happier because I don’t always have to be taken to hospital for treatment that can easily be done in the comfort of my home.”

~Yvonne Routledge, patient

In 2017, community paramedics responded to 7,862 events in the Edmonton area and 6,802 in the Calgary area. When the program is fully rolled out, the new teams will support an additional 20,000 Albertans.

“A visit to the hospital can be particularly traumatic for someone living with dementia. For Albertans with dementia and their caregivers, bringing medical and person-centred care into the home will significantly reduce stress and anxiety. This welcome news supports Alberta’s Dementia Strategy and Action Plan by providing timely and accessible services right where people live.”

~Barb Ferguson, executive director, Alzheimer Society of Calgary

New communities outside of Calgary and Edmonton were selected based on Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and emergency department admissions related to continuing care facilities. The Government of Alberta is supporting this expansion through the AHS Enhancing Care in the Community initiative.

“Community paramedics reduce stress for patients and their families, but also improve access to medical care for vulnerable people. By reducing the pressure on hospitals, teams have positive flow-on effects for the entire health-care system.”

~Darren Sandbeck, EMS chief paramedic, Alberta Health Services

Timeline for rollout

New community paramedic teams:

  • Red Deer, Camrose/Wetaskiwin – Feb. 12, 2018
  • Grande Prairie, Peace River – March 26, 2018
  • Medicine Hat, Lethbridge – May 2018

Call centres for vulnerable populations:

  • Edmonton – Feb. 12, 2018
  • Calgary – April 26, 2018