Alberta Health Services (AHS) believes four additional ambulances in Calgary will relieve some pressure on EMS and reduce the demand for EMS support from neighbouring communities, including Cochrane.

AHS EMS has hired new staff to operate these new ambulances and continues to fill several other newly-created positions.

In Calgary, 12 of the 20 additional primary care paramedics (PCP) positions have been filled. Three of the eight new emergency medical responders (EMR) responsible for Inter-Facility Transfers have also been hired, and 40 temporary rover positions in Calgary have been extended until March 2023.

Being added in August are four new Advanced Care Paramedics (ACPs) and four new PCPs specifically allotted for suburban-rural coverage in the Calgary Zone (two ACP and 2 PCP in both Okotoks and Chestermere).

Calgary is also scheduled to receive 20 new PCPs in September.

The additional ambulances is one component of its the AHS EMS 10 Point Plan to address sustained extreme call volume.

“Every resource we can add helps us provide care for Albertans,” states Darren Sandbeck, chief paramedic and senior provincial director of AHS EMS, in a press release. “We continue to see a large increase in call volume that is keeping EMS crews busy, and these new ambulances and their paramedic crews are already hard at work serving Albertans.”

Officials say AHS continues to experience significant pressure on the healthcare system due to higher-than-normal volumes of seriously ill patients, the continued impact of COVID-19, and increased staff absences due to illness.

Cochrane is one of the communities that has created an EMS crisis citizens group to pressure the government to address the ambulance issue.

The Cochrane action group is promoting a three-point plan that would allow non-emergency transfers to be completed by alternative sources, calls for the end of hospital wait times for EMS crews, and for the province to stop flexing our local ambulances into Calgary and area.

It's also recommending Cochranites have a Plan B prepared because of the uncertainty of the ambulance service.