New dedicated transfer units will alleviate pressure on ambulance services starting this Fall

New dedicated ambulance transfer units will hit the road this Fall to alleviate pressure on our ground ambulance system by providing non-urgent transfers by four dedicated units leaving more ambulances on the road to respond to emergency situations. 

A newly created class of ambulance dedicated for patient transfer services will improve patient care by addressing low acuity, non-urgent, or scheduled requests for inter-facility transfers.

The new ambulance transfer units announced today will allow low acuity, non-urgent, or scheduled requests throughout the system by using vehicles staffed by a paramedic assisted by a driver with basic first aid and medical responder training. Currently all patient transfers – urgent or not – are done using ambulances staffed by two paramedics.

“Our skilled paramedics are in high demand in PEI’s health system, the creation of these transfer units will allow more paramedics to be available for emergency response and other vital services.”

- Health and Wellness Minister Ernie Hudson

The ambulance transfer units will not respond to emergency calls and will only be used in non-emergency situations of patient transfer, such as moves to and from health facilities.  Health PEI estimates that up to 60 per cent of patients per week could be transferred between health facilities using the new class of ambulance dedicated for patient transfers. 

The service will begin using existing ambulance vehicles and will transition to vehicles specifically for these services in the future. It will consist of two units operating five days a week and two units operating seven days a week.

“At Island EMS, our purpose is to make a meaningful difference in the lives of our patients and their families through the delivery of high-quality care,” said James Orchard, General Manager of Island EMS. “By adding these additional resources, we believe this collaboration will bring positive changes by reducing pressure within our health care system and allow our skilled paramedics to focus on emergency response.”

“Introducing Ambulance Transfer Units will have a major positive impact on our Island healthcare system. Being able to transfer patients to the services they need when they need them is very important to their care as well as to patient flow within our health care system. Many of our transfers do not require a full paramedic team, and this new service will enable more paramedics to be on the road, providing lifesaving care and important service to Islanders. In addition to the excellent work done by Department of Health and Wellness and Island EMS on this project, I would like to thank the Health PEI provincial patient flow team and front-line staff who provided information and data supporting this initiative,” said Dr. Michael Gardam, Health PEI CEO.

Positions will be posted by Island EMS this week and once the appropriate staff are hired and on-boarded the units will be operational later this Fall.  This initiative is part of the work underway by the Government of Prince Edward Island to alleviate pressure on our health care system and improve access to timely health care.

For more information on emergency services on PEI, visit: Ambulance Services 

Media contact:
Ron Ryder
Health and Wellness

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