Province funds new emergency facilities, ambulances

Major investment promotes quality care

Winnipeg Health Region
Published Monday May 16, 2011

The province is increasing funding for emergency medical services, as well as investing in new emergency facilities and replacement ambulances to provide improved services for patients, Health Minister Theresa Oswald announced today. 

The minister also proclaimed May 15 to 21 Emergency Medical Services Week in Manitoba.  

"Emergency Medical Services Week is a time to recognize the important and life-saving work that these men and women do every day," said Oswald. "Right now, as we face an unprecedented flood of historic proportions, EMS personnel along with dispatchers at the Manitoba Transportation Co-ordination Centre and the helicopter ambulance team from STARS are working hard to ensure continued emergency response to meet the needs of patients and families in the flood zones and across the province."

The minister announced the province will support the introduction of two additional ambulances in Winnipeg during peak periods as well as a continued focus on reducing the time spent by paramedics transferring patients once they arrive at city hospitals. At the Health Sciences Centre, an innovative care model will see emergency department space freed up by additional hospital space for patients arriving for specialist consultations as well as those waiting for test results, she added.

"We believe this plan moves our respective organizations in the right direction," Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Chief Jim Brennan said. "The plan takes into account the challenges faced by the Health Sciences Centre emergency department, while addressing the very real need to get our staff back on the road as soon as possible, ready to respond to other calls."

Additional support will be provided for inter-facility transports in rural areas as well as in Winnipeg, where additional funding will support more efficient coordination of inter-facility ambulance transportation. 

The minister said the province will also invest an additional $2.4 million to purchase 24 replacement ambulances for the provincial fleet to be delivered this fall.

To improve the comfort of the ambulances, the province will test a new air-ride system provided by the manufacturer in two of the replacement ambulances in rural areas this fall.  These new vehicles will enhance comfort and will also allow the rear of the ambulance to be lowered for loading, improving safety for paramedics, the minister said.

"It's important we continue to look at options to improve the performance of our ambulances, ensure the comfort of the patients being transported and improve safety for our paramedics," said Oswald. "System testing will take place over one year to ensure it will be reliable and meet the needs of both patients and paramedics."

The minister added the province continues to make new capital investments in emergency medical service facilities including:

  • Building new EMS stations in Flin Flon and Oakbank/Springfield;
  • Completing a new station in Pine Falls;
  • Installing vehicle exhaust upgrades to existing facilities in Virden, Ashern and Killarney;
  • Adding crew quarters to facilities in Lac du Bonnet, Stonewall and Vita.

"This additional investment towards emergency medical services is so timely and will have a significant impact in carrying out our mandate to enhance patient safety," said Kathy McPhail, chief executive officer for the Regional Health Authority - Central Manitoba. "Whether we speak of new EMS facilities, replacement ambulances, training and education, or additional funding for such items as inter-facility and operational costs, it is the sum of all these initiatives that allows us to work more efficiently in our quest to continually improve client services."

The minister noted today's announcement builds on other important investments in emergency medical services including:

  • Continuing planning for the introduction of a permanent ambulance helicopter program;
  • Investing in the fleet vehicle program of 173 ambulances to support ambulance standards and reduce purchase and vehicle-operation expenditures;
  • Purchasing a $3.7-million replacement Lifeflight jet and making an additional investment of $6 million in aviation and medical modifications to the plane;
  • Investing $7.8 million to develop the Medical Transportation Co-ordination Centre in Brandon, the dedicated centre for the dispatch of rural and northern medical services.

Source: Manitoba Government

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