Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

EMS WEEK

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Today marks EMS Week, honouring the vital service of the province's paramedics, dispatchers and air ambulance staff. There are 1,400 licensed EMS providers in urban and rural Manitoba running 160 ambulances. They responded to about 145,000 emergency calls last year.

PARAMEDIC PARTICULARS

There are three levels of EMS experts in Manitoba.

FIRST RESPONDER -- Also known as technicians, first responders are often cross-trained firefighters who have done about 200 hours of training. They can administer oxygen, immobilize patients following car crashes and provide basic splinting and wound care. They can't administer many medications but they can transport patients.

BASIC PARAMEDIC -- Also known as technician-paramedic or primary-care paramedic, they've done about 1,200 hours of training, including practicums in ambulances. They can start IVs, administer medications like nitroglycerine and ASA for chest pain, IV glucose for diabetes, epinephrine for allergic reactions and ventolin for asthma. They can insert breathing tubes.

ADVANCED PARAMEDIC -- Also known as technician-advanced paramedic, they can do many of the procedures a doctor would do in an emergency room, including giving pain medications such as morphine, cardiac drugs like epinephrine, midazolam and atropine. They can treat seizures and drug overdoses, postpartum hemorrhage, and do all the advanced skills on pediatric patients.

HOW PROMPT IS YOUR PARAMEDIC?

The province measures response times based on how fast 90 per cent of the population can expect to get an ambulance to their door. Of the 90 rural stations, here are 10 with the fastest response times in 2008 and 10 with the slowest.

For the full list, plus a list of chute times, visit www.winnipegfreepress.com

SHILO 6 minutes

BRANDON 10

CHURCHILL 16

CRYSTAL CITY 17

STEINBACH 17

FLIN FLON 18

NEEPAWA 19.5

GRANDVIEW 20

GIMLI 20.5

SELKIRK 21

HAMIOTA 64

GRAND RAPIDS 59

WINNIPEGOSIS 57

ELKHORN 56

BISSETT 55

STE. ROSE 51

MAFEKING 49

GLADSTONE 48

BOISSEVAIN 47

ASHERN 46

HOW HEAVY ARE THE CALLS?

Some stations handle thousands of calls a year. Some handle just dozens. Here are the five busiest and the five slowest stations. For the complete list, visit www.winnipegfreepress.com.

THOMPSON 4,518 calls (up 52% since 2004)

SELKIRK 4,420 (up 21%)

BRANDON 3,821 (up 10%)

STEINBACH 3,721 (up 150%)

PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE 2,839 (up 27%)

ETHELBERT 44 (down 2% since 2004)

SNOW LAKE 46 (down 15%)

HARTNEY 50 (up 11%)

ELKHORN 56 (down 15%)

WAWANESA 69 (down 9%)

SHUTTERED STATIONS

Dozens of stations closed for more than 24 hours in 2008 due to a lack of staff. The complete list can be found at www.winnipegfreepress.com but here's a sample.

ELIE -- closed 33 times

DELORAINE -- closed 28 times

BISSETT -- closed 26 times

BIRTLE -- closed 19 times

MCCREARY -- closed 18 times

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY

Some of the disparities and problems that still exist in regional emergency medical services are:

Differences in fee structure from RHA to RHA

Differences in education and training levels of licensed EMS providers

Differences in staffing models for EMS from RHA to RHA

Differences in the number and location of ambulance services in relation to geography and call volume from RHA to RHA

Recommendation: The Manitoba government, Manitoba Health and Healthy Living, Regional

Health Authorities of Manitoba, the regional health authorities and stakeholders should work together to develop a provincewide ambulance-service delivery system that includes a fair and equitable ambulance fee structure.

-- Manitoba Regional Health Authority External Review Committee Report, Feb. 2008

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 17, 2009 B2

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