Having an ambulance stationed within Martensville has been a major topic of conversation for many years and near the end of last year, that vision looked like it was closer to becoming a reality after representatives from Saskatchewan Health Authority and Medavie Health Services West, the SHA’s contracted privately-operated EMS provider for Saskatoon and area, met with representatives from both Martensville and Warman.
It was at this time that a pilot project for the two communities was discussed. This pilot-project would see a Medavie ambulance stationed within the two communities on an alternating week-to-week basis, whenever one was available to spare from Saskatoon.
While in the communities, the ambulance would be stationed at either the Warman or Martensville Fire Hall and would respond to calls not only in the two communities, but in the surrounding region, cutting down on ambulance response times for the residents living within the area.
Despite this plan being put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Medavie recruiting and staffing additional ambulance units, according to Lisa Thomson, SHA Media Relations Consultant, the proposed pilot was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “In September, the COVID-19 numbers were relatively controlled in our province, recruitment of additional Paramedic staffing was completed and the additional units were introduced in October and November, which unfortunately coincided with the beginning of a surge in COVID-19 infections provincially. The pilot was tentatively planned to begin in January. We were unable to initiate a trial of the pilot at that time due to the significant demands on EMS and hospital services due to the pandemic,” Thomson said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected other areas as well, “Saskatoon Emergency Departments continue to review ways to reduce time required for EMS patient transfers. For example, at Royal University Hospital, we have onboarded staff and intend to create an offload area for EMS patients once the space is no longer reserved for our COVID surge plan.”
Currently, when a medical emergency takes place within Martensville, the Martensville Fire Department First Responders attend the call and assess the patient(s), and provide medical care until Medavie arrives, where transfer of care will then take place and the patient will be transported to a health care facility. “If all the ambulances are on other calls the ambulance response may be delayed until an ambulance unit/crew can be cleared from their patient. The Medical First Responders will continue providing care for ill or injured patients until the ambulance unit/crew arrives,” Thomson said. The timeframe for this transfer of care can vary, depending on how quickly an ambulance is available to come to Martensville, with some calls seeing an ambulance on scene within 20-30 minutes, and others taking upwards of an hour or more.
Thomson noted that discussions are being held to discuss options for a long-term solution to improve response times for the community. “With the additional investment in EMS resources in Saskatoon and Regina that was announced as part of the 2021-22 provincial budget, there will be a phased expansion for additional staffed ambulance resources in Saskatoon over the course of 2021-22. The SHA will be consulting with the City of Martensville, the City of Warman and Medavie Health Services to determine how the additional Saskatoon EMS resources will be used to further improve response times.”
“The plan is to initiate the pilot once resources are able to support it,” Thomson added.