September 27, 2022
CALGARY– Alberta Health Services (AHS) now has 10 additional net-new ambulances in service for Alberta patients, with five each in Calgary and Edmonton. These new ambulances are helping to relieve pressure on EMS and improve access to emergency patient care.
These 10 new ambulances are in addition to nine net-new ambulances that went into service in June 2022, for a total of 19. They have been funded through $16 million included in the current Government of Alberta Budget, and are one component of the AHS EMS 10 Point Plan to address sustained high call volume and ensure Albertans get emergency care where and when they need it.
“We are delivering on the commitment to fund new ambulances for service as quickly as possible. These new ambulances will help create additional capacity in the system, which is much needed,” says Jason Copping, Minister of Health.
EMS has experienced a sustained increase in 911 call volumes of up to 30 percent above pre-pandemic levels, and call volumes have increased nearly 60 percent since 2010. All call types have increased and staff illness and fatigue continue to contribute to challenges in the healthcare system..
To staff these new ambulances, AHS has also hired new paramedics to provide patient care. These 40 new Primary Care Paramedics – 20 each in Calgary and Edmonton – augment an additional 40 paramedic positions that AHS EMS hired in the spring of 2022.
Adding new ambulances to the EMS fleet is a complex task that involves the work of many AHS EMS divisions, strong relationships with suppliers, and substantial lead times.
Ambulances must first be procured from chassis manufacturer General Motors, which currently fulfills orders in approximately 10-12 months. The ambulances are then delivered to Demers Inc. where the components of the ambulance, such as the patient compartment, are built and affixed to the chassis. The ambulances are subsequently delivered to AHS. This build and delivery process takes several weeks.
“Our teams have been planning ahead and working closely with our suppliers over the last year to expedite the arrival of these vehicles so that we can continue providing the best care to Albertans,” says Darren Sandbeck, Chief Paramedic and Senior Provincial Director, AHS EMS.
When the ambulances arrive at AHS they undergo further installation of equipment, including radio and communications devices, Stryker Power-LOAD stretcher systems, LIFEPAK Automated External Defibrillators, battery and equipment charging devices, and medical gasses such as oxygen. As well, each ambulance must be stocked with a complete array of medical supplies.
EMS’ Vehicles, Equipment, Supplies and Services Technicians (VESST) ensure each and every ambulance is arranged and stocked in an identical fashion so that a paramedic is able to find any supplies quickly on any ambulance in the AHS EMS fleet.
To learn more about the ambulance procurement and building process, watch our video.
Members of the media may request a downloadable version of this video story by contacting AHS Communications.
A handout photo of the new ambulances is also available. As these resources are already being utilized for patient care, no additional photo opportunities are available.
To learn more about the work that AHS is doing to ensure sustainable high-quality emergency medical services are available for all Albertans, visit our website.
Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.