$5-million Investment Will Fund 39 New Ambulances to Serve Communities Across Manitoba: Oswald

April 14, 2009

Province Piloting New, Next-generation Ambulances Offering Lower Emissions, Increased Patient Comfort

A $5-million investment will expand the province’s ambulance fleet by nine vehicles and replace 30 additional ambulances with new models to further strengthen emergency medical services across Manitoba, Health Minister Theresa Oswald announced today.“Expanding our provincial fleet of emergency vehicles helps ensure we’re meeting future demand for service while increasing patient safety and comfort,” Oswald said. “Today’s investment reflects our commitment to ensuring our dedicated emergency personnel have the tools they need to deliver the best care possible.”

The 39 new and replacement ambulances will be deployed in communities across the province on the basis of need.

The province also today unveiled four new, next-generation ambulances – one each for the Winnipeg, Brandon, Assiniboine and Interlake regional health authorities – that will be piloted beginning this spring to determine whether the province should incorporate more of the leading-edge vehicles into its emergency fleet.

The four new state-of-the-art ambulances include a number of features expected to improve safety and comfort for patients and EMS professionals including:
· no-lift stretcher systems to reduce the risk of injury;
· softer suspension to ensure a more comfortable ride for patients;
· new reflective markings and emergency lighting to make the ambulances more visible in all weather conditions;
· better access to the equipment used to treat patients, while allowing paramedics to use their seatbelts; and
· backup cameras to improve the driver’s field of vision.

The minister noted the new vehicles being piloted are 46 per cent more fuel efficient than ambulances currently in the fleet. The prototype is the only full-size diesel van in North America that meets 2010 tailpipe emission requirements by filtering out diesel soot and particulates.

“Emergency medical services are often the first point of contact for Manitobans who need urgent health care,” said Todd Ward, director of safety and emergency services with the Brandon Regional Health Authority. “Investments in new and updated equipment help paramedics continue to provide quality care.”

The minister noted that 30 ambulances currently in service across the province are already undergoing an upgrade announced last year to enhance safety and comfort for patients while improving fuel efficiency. Upgrades include the replacement of the chassis – the frame, engine and suspension – as well as refurbishment and upgrades to the patient section of the ambulance.

Manitoba’s fleet ambulance program was developed in 2001 to introduce vehicle standards and reduce purchase and operation costs.

Since 1999, the Manitoba government has made significant investments in emergency medical services including:
· investing more than $1.3 million to partner with Red River College to develop and deliver a primary-care paramedic program at the college’s main campus and at three rural and northern sites throughout the province;
· developing the $7.8-million Medical Transportation Co-ordination Centre in Brandon, the dedicated centre for the dispatch of all rural and northern medical services including inter-facility transfers;
· investing $6.5 million to replace an air-ambulance jet in the Lifeflight program which provides life‑saving transport each year to more than 500 people living in remote communities;
· investing more than $4.6 million to construct or substantially upgrade 16 emergency medical stations in Morden/Winkler, Oak Bluff, Carmen, The Pas, Killarney, Swan River, Minnedosa, Rivers, Ste. Anne, Gypsumville, The Pas, Steinbach, Lundar, Kinisota Trails, Ashern and Dauphin;
· providing an estimated $7 million each year to fund the full patient cost of inter-facility transports; and
· investing more than $15 million in a fleet vehicle program including the purchase of 160 new ambulances which introduced ambulance standards and reduced purchase and vehicle operation expenditures.

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