Over-the-phone support now available for emergencies
Supporting Island Families -
Islanders who call 9-1-1 for medical emergencies can now get support over the phone until first responders arrive.
The province’s new Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) system allows 9-1-1 dispatchers to give directions such as CPR over the phone. Since the system went live in August, dispatchers supported 15 cardiac-arrest callers with CPR instruction; allergic reaction callers were instructed how to administer an epinephrine auto-injector; and several chest pain calls resulted in aspirin being taken prior to paramedics arriving on scene.
“Our dispatchers are often the first line of communication for those who find themselves in an emergency situation, and being able to support those needing help from the onset can mean the difference between life and death,” said Matt Spidel, operations manager with the Island EMS Dispatch Centre. “The new system ensures our staff have a consistent way to respond to calls, offering clear instructions to those on the other end of the phone and gathering more detailed information for paramedics so they are even more prepared when they arrive on scene.”
Those calling 9-1-1 with a medical emergency will be asked detailed questions to help the dispatcher fully understand the situation. Based on this information the dispatcher may tell the caller to take action with the help of a specific set of instructions, or simply stay on the phone so that up-to-date information can be continually shared with the paramedics who are on route to the scene.
“Emergencies are often confusing and frightening for the person who calls 9-1-1, so this new system offers immediate support to the caller while the response team is en route,” said Health and Wellness Minister Robert Henderson. “Emergency health care is a critical component of our health care system; these enhancements will further support Island families and the paramedics that serve them, while providing better coordination and medical assistance."
Planning for a new provincial Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) Registry is also underway. When 9-1-1 receives a call for a cardiac arrest, the owner of the closest AED will be automatically notified and asked to respond, and the 9-1-1 dispatcher will provide the caller with instructions on how to use it until paramedics arrive. The registry is expected to be launched later this fall.
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.
For more information about ambulance services within the province, visit www.healthpei.ca/ambulanceservices.
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 7 minutes and 15 seconds, an improvement from the average of 8 minutes and 23 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);
- implementing the new PICS 2 radio system in all ambulances (2015);
- implementing 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).