Edmonton EMS expedites evacuations: “We help our community. It’s just what we do”

Edmonton  EMS oWhen the floodwaters started to rise in southern Alberta, an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) team from the Edmonton Zone of Alberta Health Services was ready to answer the call.

EMS sent its Multiple Patient Unit (MPU) and a team of three paramedics to southern Alberta where they worked to relocate patients out of High River and Drumheller.

The MPU transports up to five stretcher patients and six seated patients, speeding evacuations.

“These members were on duty at the time they were asked, and left for prolonged assignment without hesitation,” says Kevin O’Keefe, Edmonton EMS Metro Supervisor.

“The bus was a great tool in helping evacuate hospitals and move patients out of potentially dangerous areas.”

On Sunday, June 23, the first team was relieved by a second from Edmonton.

In the lull between response and recovery phases, this team trained Calgary Zone EMS staff in operation of the MPU, while also attending Emergency Operation Committee meetings and remaining on standby for further evacuation responses and repatriation assignments.

“The important part now is helping to get evacuated patients back to their original hospital,” says Kim Sarsfield, a member of the second team and acting supervisor for Inter-Facility Transfer (IFT) in Edmonton.

“In just a day and a half, we were able to train members of Calgary’s IFT, metro and suburban /rural teams on how to use the MPU, and leave them with the right resources so they can do the job as easily and efficiently as possible.”

Edmonton’s paramedics returned home Tuesday, June 25, but left the MPU to continue to assist the recovery phase in the Calgary and Central zones.

For paramedic Jay Dell, there wasn’t even a question if he should give up time off to assist.

“I sat down with my seven-year-old son and showed him pictures of the flooding, and asked him if I should go,” says Dell.

His son said yes.

“We help our community,” says Dell. “It’s just what we do.”

This story was provided by Alberta Health Services and was originally posted on their website.