Gateway Gazette

Improving Access to Emergency Medical Services

Alberta has updated ambulance regulations to help improve efficiencies and access to emergency medical services for Albertans.

EMS Mobile Integrated Health Care, Community Paramedicine

The new regulations support more timely and appropriate access to emergency medical services by allowing stretcher vans and other vehicles to safely respond to non-urgent patient needs, keeping ambulances available for more critical situations.

“Regulating more vehicles means faster care for Albertans who require in-home medical treatment and assistance from community paramedics. They will not need to wait for a traditional ambulance when they don’t need one. Rural health professionals have been calling for these improvements, and we’re proud to make them happen.”Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

The regulation updates also maximize the roles for nurse practitioners and paramedics, allowing nurse practitioners to now work as medical directors and provide real-time medical advice to paramedics during emergency medical events.

Emergency medical service providers and operators were consulted and support these new regulations that provide greater flexibility to respond to Albertans during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as in the years ahead as best practices evolve. 

“We welcome these changes that support the EMS system now and into the future. When we get a call, our team can asses if an alternate form of transport is appropriate or even if the patient’s needs are better met by referring someone like a community paramedic to them.”Darren Sandbeck, chief paramedic and senior provincial director, Alberta Health Services, Emergency Medical Services

“We appreciate regulatory changes that support Albertans who choose to access medical care in their homes. Now patients know that when they call a paramedic to help, it won’t necessarily mean taking an ambulance off the road.”Ryan Kozicky, director, EMS Mobile Integrated Health Care, Community Paramedicine

The new emergency vehicles have the same identification, licensing, registration and safety requirements as traditional ambulances, including regular inspections and maintenance.

Quick facts

  • AHS Emergency Medical Services responds to more than 550,000 events across the province annually.
  • Ground ambulance legislation establishes standards for:
    • patient care
    • practitioner training
    • equipment use and maintenance
    • how patient information is passed between care providers
  • All new classes of vehicles will be owned or registered to a licensed ambulance operator and approved for use by Alberta Health.
    • Inspection and maintenance costs will be offset by the lower operational costs of more fuel-efficient vehicles.
  • In addition to physicians, registered nurses, nurse practitioners and paramedics will be able to:
    • make transport decisions
    • decide on EMS destination for appropriate patient care

Related information

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