Posted on 05/31/2014, 9:25 am, by mySteinbach

The province is introducing a new advanced-care paramedic program and transitioning part-time positions to full-time, an initiative that will strengthen the health-care system and provide quicker, better emergency medical services (EMS) in rural Manitoba. This announcement was made by Health Minister Erin Selby.

“Emergency medical services personnel devote their lives to provide lifesaving care to those in need,” said Minister Selby. “We continue to invest in training opportunities and new positions to ensure quality care is available when and where it is needed most.”

Up to 25 part-time EMS positions will become full-time positions by spring of 2015, she said, adding the province will work with the regional health authorities to determine what changes are necessary and where the full-time positions are most needed to improve response times and provide improved service to Manitoba’s communities.

Minister Selby said over the last year, the average provincial EMS response time has significantly decreased to 12 minutes per call from 16 minutes per call. Through the initiatives announced today, the province expects to see improved and more consistent response times, especially in rural areas, she added.

In addition, the minister announced that a new advanced-care paramedic program will be launched at Red River College in September 2015.  This two-year program will have an annual intake of 16 students and will be delivered in a blended format of digitally based distance education coupled with in-person laboratory and practical experience.

“Improving emergency pre-hospital patient outcomes in Manitoba starts with better access to advanced EMS training,” said Education and Advanced Learning Minister James Allum. “We rely on our paramedic’s services to save lives in medical emergencies and we must give them the best opportunities to further their skills through education.”

Minister Selby noted the advanced-care paramedic program and the transition of part-time to full-time positions are another step in the government’s continuing efforts to create a much more modern, effective and co-ordinated EMS system over the past 15 years, particularly in rural and northern Manitoba. She added these initiatives are part of the government’s 10-year plan to implement the Manitoba EMS System Review recommendations conducted in 2013.

“The new advanced-care paramedic program will enhance the level of emergency care being delivered in rural communities. It will help encourage rural retention by targeting paramedics that are already working in rural settings where they have put down roots,” said Wayne Chacun, EMS director, Manitoba Government and General Employees Union. “We’re also very pleased to see the province moving forward with more recommendations from the EMS review and making more full-time paramedic positions available.”

In addition, work is underway to transition full oversight of all paramedics in Manitoba to the Office of the Medical Director for emergency medical services. Consolidating medical oversight into a single program will create opportunities to better apply research, best practices and quality improvement programs consistently to all regions, Minister Selby said.

In turn, this will be beneficial to paramedics as they will have standardized treatment protocols across Manitoba and will benefit patients by ensuring Manitoba can easily implement the latest advances in paramedic care, she noted.

“The Manitoba EMS System Review recommended the creation of this office to build on our previous investments in service delivery and innovative programs,” said Minister Selby. “We continue to move forward on implementing the recommendations to ensure a strong system.”

More information on emergency medical services in Manitoba