Emergency Medical Care

Reaching proper emergency medical care has become a severe problem in our rural communities. For example, in rural New Brunswick, volunteer ambulance services have been replaced in the last decade with privatized EMS personnel. In the community of Boiestown, which is located one hour from the nearest emergency room, the company responsible for providing ambulatory services recently decided to move their staff to Doaktown, another community 20 minutes away (and further from the hospital). The result? Response time to an accident in Boiestown was almost 30 minutes. Add that to the already long ambulance ride, and the critically injured young person had to wait ninety minutes before arriving at the emergency room.

Position 1: Ensure prompt and well-trained emergency response personnel, paid or volunteer, within each and every Canadian community.

Hayley's Argument

What are some of the barriers that have prevented this from happening already? How can we make it affordable?

Abby's Reply

One of the major barriers is discrepancies between fedral and provincial juristiction. Most of my knowledge is of New Brunswick, since I grew up there. Emergency care services have been scaled back drastically in rural areas in NB due to amalgamation of districts, privatization of EMS services, and decreased fedral transfer payments. Many smaller community hospitals no longer provide emergency services because of staffing shortages (and the lack of funds to pay more staff). In my community EMS services began to decrease when the delivery system was changed from volunteer (St. John Ambulance) to a private company. This was due in part to changing laws on training levels for ambulance staff, requiring EMT certification. One obvious (and affordable) solution would be to allow volunteer services to resume in such small communities, and perhaps revisiting the certification laws.

Position 2: Ensure every Canadian is within reasonable travelling distance of emergency medical care.