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Province to Continue Building New Era of Emergency Medical Services in Manitoba: Oswald

April 12, 2013

Improvements to Emergency Medical Service Designed to Provide Better Care, Closer to Home for Manitoba Families

The provincial government will continue building a new era of emergency medical services (EMS) in Manitoba by taking immediate action to create a more unified and responsive EMS system, Health Minister Theresa Oswald said today after receiving the reports of the independent Manitoba EMS System Review.

“The last decade has seen dramatic changes in EMS across Manitoba.  Paramedics are now capable of delivering a wide array of advanced emergency care well before a patient enters a hospital,” said Oswald.  “By continuing to work together with our EMS partners, the recommendations made in this report will guide us as we usher in a better, more co-ordinated, more responsive era of EMS in our province.”

The 69-page report contains 54 recommendations and was prepared by Reg Toews, a recognized leader in the province’s health-care system.  Toews travelled throughout the province to speak with paramedics, firefighters, municipal leaders, First Nations and Métis communities, and numerous EMS experts, educators and stakeholders.

“Throughout the course of my consultations, I saw first-hand the creative initiatives and substantial opportunities that exist to create a world-class EMS system for Manitobans,” said Toews.  “I am encouraged by my interactions with all the individuals and organizations I met with, particularly with those of the front-line medics.”

The report analyzed issues, options and opportunities and sets out a 10-year plan to improve dispatch, medical accountability, performance indicators, community engagement, education and governance.

To ensure this important work gets underway without delay, the minister said, the province has committed to move forward immediately with a number of key recommendations including:

  • Establishment of a new provincial Office of the Medical Director to provide seamless medical leadership in the EMS system as well as oversight on training, medical care and quality improvement.  Currently, there are 11 different medical directors working in health regions across Manitoba.  Part of the role of this office will be to consolidate those 11 positions into five, saving approximately $200,000 dollars to be reinvested into front-line services.
  • Creation of an implementation task force to consult with rural municipalities, First Nations and Métis communities, regional health authorities and other EMS stakeholders on how best to take the recommendations from paper to practice.  This task force will be chaired by Toews and will include front-line EMS personnel.
  • Development of new legislation to enable paramedics to provide even better care for patients and families across Manitoba.

New innovations in Manitoba’s EMS system have fundamentally changed the way emergency responders provide care to families, the minister said.  Manitoba’s paramedic workforce has changed from a largely volunteer pool to highly trained health professionals integrated into the health-care system.  While a new, post-secondary advanced care paramedic training program is being developed, funding has been provided to the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service to expand its advanced training to paramedics in rural communities.  In addition, the STARS helicopter ambulance is providing rapid access to trauma and emergency care for patients in rural Manitoba and the Medical Transportation Co-ordination Centre in Brandon is providing better co-ordination and dispatch of EMS service providers, getting first responders where they are needed faster.

Organizations and associations representing members of Manitoba’s emergency response team recognized the positive changes that have been made to the EMS system over the last decade and were widely supportive of the new era of EMS envisioned by the review team, Oswald said.

“Paramedics were proactive in bringing forward their ideas for building a better system in Manitoba that improves patient care and is responsive to paramedics’ needs,” said Michelle Gawronsky, president of the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union.  “This review addresses many of the concerns that were raised by paramedics across Manitoba and recognizes the evolving role of paramedicine.  We look forward to working with the task force as they implement the recommendations brought forward today.”

“Paramedics are dedicated health professionals desiring to deliver the best patient care possible,” said Jodi Possia, chair of the Paramedics Association of Manitoba.  “These recommendations build on the commitment and investment Manitoba’s government has made in paramedicine over the last 10 years.”

“We are proud of the work our members do in helping Manitobans during medical emergencies,” said Bob Moroz, president of the Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals.  “We are hopeful that this review will result in an even stronger emergency medical system in Manitoba.”

The government currently dedicates $128 million provincewide for land and air ambulance services every year, said Oswald.  There are currently 92 rural and northern EMS stations, 18 in Winnipeg and work is underway for new stations in Iles de Chênes and St. Laurent.  In 2011, they responded to approximately 156,000 calls and call volumes continue to increase annually.

The complete report is available online at www.gov.mb.ca/health.

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