© THE GUARDIAN/Heather Taweel
Dr. Scott Cameron, foreground, chairman of the emergency medical services board, says a new Computer Assisted Dispatch (CAD) software will be installed in all ambulances across P.E.I. to create data that will improve response times. Darcy Clinton, general manager of Island EMS, says analytics is an important tool in emergency response.
Province spending $600,000 for new truck plus new computer system in all vehicles provincewide
A new ambulance for the eastern portion of the Island and a new computer software system for the entire province aim to improve response times in P.E.I.
The provincial government announced on Friday that it was investing $588,000 in two areas.
First, eastern Kings County is getting an additional ambulance at a cost of $388,000, which takes into account money for the operation of the vehicle and hiring four new staff. The ambulance will go into service in February and will be stationed in the St. Peters area.
Residents in the eastern part of the province have been fighting for an additional ambulance for some time.
"Data has reaffirmed the need for an ambulance in the St. Peters area base of operations,'' said Health Minister Robert Henderson. "It's an integrated system . . . to expand the ground ambulance fleet, reduce response times and improve services offered in the ambulance.''
The demand for emergency health services continues to rise steadily across the province. The number of 911 calls requiring an ambulance response doubled since 2008, increasing from 6,000 pre-hospital calls in 2008 to 12,000 this past year.
Today, the average provincial response time is nine minutes and 46 seconds, an improvement, Health P.E.I. says, over 2011 numbers where response in rural areas was 22-27 minutes and similar to the urban response time of nine minutes five years ago.
Response times in December 2015 were fairly consistent across the province, ranging, on average, from eight minutes and 15 seconds to 13 minutes and 36 seconds.
Dr. Scott Cameron, chairman of the emergency medical services board, said they recognize the pressure points, especially in the eastern end of the Island.
"We want to ensure there are vehicles when they are required, where they are required,'' Cameron said. "A lot of times an ambulance not being in Souris is a reflection of pressures elsewhere in the system. This new vehicle really acts as a buffer so that the Souris vehicle will be less likely to get pulled in towards the centre (of the province) very often.''
Meanwhile, the new Computer Assisted Dispatch (CAD) software (cost: $200,000) captures the geo-locations of all active ambulances across the province at any given time, as well as response times, call volumes and the nature of calls.
Cameron said CAD will provide data that tells them who needs an ambulance, what type of care they require most often and when they most often need it, so that service can be adjusted accordingly.
Darcy Clinton, general manager with Island EMS, said analytics are important.
"Now, with the data (we can) further ensure we are providing the right care at the right place at the right time,'' Clinton said.