Why is AHS EMS creating a Service Plan?

    Service planning is part of a regular planning cycle: taking stock of where things are; identifying what could be improved; making a plan to address the improvements identified; and measuring the impact of the changes. This Service Plan will look to inform the next 5 years of EMS Operations.

    The Service Plan will provide the direction, guiding principles and priorities that will inform EMS’ annual operating plans. Though annual operating plans, recommendations will be implemented and operationalized in incremental steps.

    What elements are included?

    The Minister of Health directed AHS to develop a Service Plan, and EMS is creating a Service Plan that will:

    • Optimize patient/family/provider experience;
    • Support front-line EMS in the delivery of safe and culturally safe care while allowing paramedics to carry out the full scope of their practice;
    • Integrate across the system of healthcare; 
    • Ensure long-term system sustainability (e.g. operating costs, staffing, etc.);  and, 
    • Ensure equity of service across Alberta in both urban and rural settings.

    The EMS Service Plan will not include:

    • Negotiations with unions, contracted service providers, or others who may be impacted by the resulting Service Plan.
    • Previous work on the Helicopter EMS Review, EMS Dispatch model, or the decision regarding making EMS part of the healthcare system.

    What is the timeline?

    The EMS Service Plan must be delivered to the Minister no later than September 30, 2022.

    What is the process?

    Broad engagement, with individuals and groups across the province, will provide an understanding of the current state of EMS in Alberta. Themes from the engagement will be prioritized and working groups will be assigned to draft goals and initiatives to address priorities. With additional broad engagement, those goals and initiatives will be refined to form a draft Service Plan ready for approvals.

    Who is involved in building the Provincial EMS Service Plan?

    AHS EMS is taking the lead in building the Service Plan, in close consultation with Alberta Health. AHS EMS is relying heavily on support from AHS Planning & Performance, as well as Alberta Health’s Emergency Health Services Unit, and the Health System Quality and Planning Division. Community engagement and input from our stakeholders are valuable components of this long-term planning.

    Who will be consulted? How can I provide input to this process?

    AHS EMS and Alberta Health will be consulting with patients and families, frontline EMS staff, elected officials, Indigenous communities, contracted service partners, medical first responders, and other parts of the healthcare system. Live and recorded webinars will set the stage for surveys, as well as conversations, in order to gather input. 

    Members of the public who do not receive a specific invitation to take part are still encouraged to offer their feedback and suggestions by participating in a range of public engagement activities through Together4Health.

    If you think there is someone who could offer a valuable perspective, please share the Together4Health link with them.

    There seems to be a number of different plans for EMS, so where does this Service Plan fit?

    The EMS Service Plan will provide a strategic five-year vision and direction for EMS in Alberta, along with clear roadmaps for the next steps to address the issues we have identified, and are learning about through the engagement process. 

    While the EMS Service Plan is being developed, AHS EMS is implementing a 10 Point Plan to address immediate system pressures (including a 30% increase in call volume that began in early 2021 and has continued) and reduced staffing due to illness and fatigue. 

    The Minister of Health has also appointed an Alberta Emergency Medical Services Provincial Advisory Committee that will provide short-term recommendations to the Minister, some of which may feed into the long-term EMS Service Plan.

    Why don’t you just hire more paramedics in order to increase resources?

    AHS EMS is continuously hiring paramedics to fill vacancies. Despite the dedication of our hiring teams, we still have vacancies for current positions and some postings with no applicants. 

    AHS EMS is connecting with paramedic schools to see how we can work together to boost enrollment and grow the pool of future paramedics.

    Why don’t you just add more ambulances?

    Adding ambulances requires both trained staff and vehicles. In addition to staffing challenges, AHS EMS has been impacted by global supply chain issues. With a budget in place, AHS EMS ordered 137 ambulance chassis for the 2021/22 year - only four chassis were delivered

    Due to global supply chain constraints, our partners in manufacturing are dealing with shortages. We have worked with our manufacturing partner to emphasize the need for ambulance chassis, and to align future planning and production cycles to ensure our needs can be met once supply chain concerns are resolved.