Alberta Health Services EMS Training Day prepares promising paramedics

It’s hard work, and lately it’s been filled with even more pressure: the healthcare system is taxed, with full emergency rooms and a shortage of hospital beds.

The province is also in the midst of an opioid crisis. Evan Vokins, a primary care paramedic student, wants to be a part of it.

“Seeing the environment we’re in and what we’re going to do definitely adds perspective,” Vokins said.

He is one of many students who participated in an EMS training day hosted by Alberta Health Services as part of National Paramedic Services Week.

The event is aimed at promising paramedics to better understand the vital skills used by EMS practitioners daily.

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“A lot of people think, ‘Oh, you’re going to get in the back of the ambulance and you’re going to instantly run to an emergency’, but there’s a lot more to it and the world of paramedics is expanding,” said Vokins.

Public Education Officer Jillian Maier said it was the first hands-on event they could hold since the pandemic, and that students being able to come in person made a big difference.

“They make that connection, they make that relationship, it makes them more comfortable, they can be better at work, and it just opens a lot of doors for our students,” Maier said.

“Being a paramedic is a job like no other. When you come to work, you expect to have a day where you have no idea what’s going to happen – many of us appreciate that in our job.

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The community paramedic team was also highlighted — this is one of the newest branches, operating in Alberta for about 10 years.

These paramedics are sent to a virtual hospital and can come to people’s homes to administer things like IV bags, catheters and stitches. Community paramedic Marla Bartel said the program continues to grow.

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Bartel said their services initially focused primarily on long-term care and assisted living.

“We were going to treat a patient at home, and that was pretty much the only demographic we were dealing with,” Bartel said.

“We have expanded each year to help a wide variety of people.”

Bartel said it would free up an ambulance, a hospital bed and hours of patient time.

“Our team just wants to lighten the load – lighten the load on the emergency systems because it’s taxed and we’re able to take the pressure off a bit.”

EMS personnel and paramedics respond to more than 589,000 events each year, or approximately 1,600 calls per day.

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