New emergency health supports will help save lives
New emergency health technology will help Islanders until paramedics arrive.
A new Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) system will allow 9-1-1 dispatchers to provide instructions such as CPR directions over the phone until Island EMS or other first responders arrive. Health PEI and Island EMS are introducing the system this summer.
“This new system is a standardized approach to 9-1-1 medical calls that will bridge a crucial emergency services gap, because dispatchers cannot currently provide this level of support,” said Matt Spidel, operations manager with the Island EMS Dispatch Centre. “It will provide our staff with a consistent way to handle all medical calls while also providing the caller with step-by-step medical instructions until first responders arrive on scene.”
The health authority is also creating a new provincial Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) Registry. It will allow 9-1-1 dispatchers to advise a caller who is assisting a patient in sudden cardiac arrest of the publically accessible defibrillator closest to them, direct the caller to either retrieve it or ask someone else for assistance, and provide instructions on how to use it until paramedics arrive.
“We are delighted to learn of government’s planned enhancement of EMD protocol in PEI that will doubtless save the lives of many who experience a heart attack, stroke or other medical emergency,” said Charlotte Comrie, CEO, Heart & Stroke, PEI and Nova Scotia. “The implementation of the AED registry will also have enormous potential to improve survival rates in individuals who experience sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) by enabling dispatchers to rapidly provide information on the presence of an AED at or near the SCA victim’s location.”
Government’s balanced 2017-18 operating budget includes $166,000 to implement the EMD protocol and AED Registry, building upon previous enhancements in emergency health services.
“Emergency health situations can be intimidating and scary for bystanders involved,” Health and Wellness Minister Robert Henderson said. “By providing 9-1-1 dispatchers with the knowledge and training to assist someone at the scene of an emergency, critical care can start immediately and in some situations Islanders lives may be saved.”
The EMD system is expected to go live this September after all staff have completed the required training. The AED Registry is expected to be launched later this fall.
Over the coming months, Health PEI will reach out to communities across the province, encouraging them to register their publically accessible AEDs.
For general information about ambulance services within the province, visit Ambulance Services.
• Since 2008, the number of 9-1-1 calls requiring an ambulance response has risen steadily from 6,000 pre-hospital calls to over approximately 11,300 last year.
• The most common ambulance call types include breathing problems, chest pain, general malaise, falls, and traffic collisions.
The current average ambulance response time across the province is 8 minutes and 15 seconds, an improvement from the average of 9 minutes and 12 seconds reported this time last year.
Government, in partnership with Health PEI and Island EMS, has made significant investments in emergency health services and the ground ambulance program in recent years including:
• adding an ambulance to Kings County (2016);
• investing a new Computer Assisted Dispatch (CAD) system (2015);
• eliminating the hospital-to-hospital transfer fee for Island residents (2013);
• adding two ambulance transfer units (2013);
• adding two rural rapid response units – one to Kings County and one to West Prince (2013);
• extending coverage hours in Kings County and West Prince (2011);
• eliminating emergency fee for Island seniors 65+ (2009);
• adding coverage hours province-wide (2009); and
• eliminating out-of-province ambulance fees for Island residents (2008).
Senior Communications Officer