October 23, 2023
On hand for the unveiling of the new non-emergency transport van in Grande Prairie were, from left: Clayton Dirksen, AHS EMS; Laura LaValley, CEO, Northwestern Alberta Foundation; Rhonda Thomson, Northwestern Alberta Foundation; Jason Gabriel, AHS EMS; Cheryl Weaver, Chair, REMS Foundation; Steve Zimmerman, Councillor, County of Grande Prairie; Amanda Frayn, Executive Director, REMS Foundation, and Councillor, County of Grande Prairie; and Dallas Pierson, AHS EMS. Photo supplied.
Story by Diana Rinne
GRANDE PRAIRIE — A new specialty non-emergency transport (NET) vehicle is freeing up capacity for Alberta Health Services’ (AHS) EMS teams in Grande Prairie and region thanks to the support of the Regional EMS Foundation and its donors.
“We were so pleased to be able to fundraise and donate this specialized vehicle to AHS with the help of the County of Grande Prairie, New Horizon Coop, Prairie Villa Insurance and Northwestern Alberta Foundation,” says Cheryl Weaver, Chair of the Regional EMS Foundation based in Grande Prairie. The new $164,000 vehicle was officially unveiled at the Foundation’s annual Wine Fair & Auction fundraiser on Sept. 29.
This specially equipped vehicle will be used to transport patients who require minimal medical attention between healthcare facilities to attend appointments such as specialist consults and diagnostic tests. Previously, an ambulance may have been used for these scheduled, low-acuity transfers.
“It’s a vehicle intended to transport patients who require minimal medical attention and intervention during transport between healthcare facilities,” says Dan Huckabee, Director of North Zone EMS.
The new NET vehicle, staffed by two EMS practitioners, is equipped with a Power Cot stretcher, medical supplies, an automated external defibrillator (AED) and medical oxygen. As well, the vehicle is equipped with sophisticated GPS and communication equipment.
“It’s not set up like an ambulance, it’s a transportation means that allows us to comfortably move select patients between healthcare facilities in a safe environment,” adds Huckabee.
The concept of the NET vehicle, recently introduced by the Alberta Government in recent changes to the Alberta Ground Ambulance Regulations, is designed to add capacity to the EMS system.
Although global supply-chain factors led to some delays in the manufacturing and delivery of the new vehicle, Huckabee says he’s excited to see the vehicle up and running. While based in Grande Prairie, the NET vehicle will support patients throughout the greater Grande Prairie region.
“We would like to thank the Regional EMS Foundation for their ongoing support of AHS EMS,” he adds. “We’re very fortunate to have such great community support for our healthcare and patients.”