Ambulance response times debated in P.E.I. legislature

Teresa Wright twright@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on May 2, 2013
Island EMS ambulance
Guardian photo

Concerns about ambulance response times in rural P.E.I. were raised today in the P.E.I. legislature.

Opposition MLA Colin LaVie questioned Health Minister Doug Currie on the average response times for ambulances, saying he believes they are as high 40 to 50 minutes in some rural areas.

Currie said the average wait time for an ambulance is approximately 22 minutes.

CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF RESPONSE TIMES ACROSS P.E.I., AS PROVIDED BY ISLAND EMS

But LaVie said he believes this average is not accounting for the longest wait times that have been experienced by some Islanders in outlying areas.

“These times may be the difference between life and death, the longest wait times,” LaVie said.

“Minister, why are you withholding true ambulance wait time numbers from Islanders?”

Currie pointed out Island EMS provides some aggregate data on response times on its website, but would look into the issue and report back to the house.

LaVie also asked how response times would be impacted by the addition of two new rapid response vehicles into the Island EMS fleet.

These vehicles cannot transport patients to hospital, but can treat and stabilize patients who need immediate medical assistance.

LaVie asked why these two new vehicles will only be in operation five days a week for a limited number of hours a day.

“What is your plan to reduce wait times for ambulances the remaining two days of the week?” LaVie asked.

Currie confirmed they would only be on the road for nine hours a day, five days a week, but said they would be in place during peak volume call times when they would be most needed to respond to medical emergencies across P.E.I.

He also said Health P.E.I.’s current contract negotiations with Island EMS may allow for new opportunities to improve ground ambulance services.

“I’m confident that, moving forward, we’ll continue to strengthen our ground ambulance fleet,” Currie said.