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Ambulance company sees major spike in call volume over past year

MD Ambulance paramedic Devin Russin shows a preschool student how an oxygen mask works during an open house at the ambulance headquarters on May 27
MD Ambulance paramedic Devin Russin shows a preschool student how an oxygen mask works during an open house at the ambulance headquarters on May 27

Saskatoon-area paramedics responded to about 29,000 emergency medical calls in 2014; an increase of 2,000 responses over the year before, according to MD Ambulance Director of Public Affairs Troy Davies.
In an interview at an MD Ambulance open house event on Wednesday, May 27, Davies said the increase in call volume was largely due to the increase in population in the City of Saskatoon and surrounding area.
“Saskatoon grew by 17,000 people last year,” said Davies. “On top of that there were an additional 5,000 people moving to the rural area around the city. The sheer number of people means there will be an increasing demand for ambulances.”
MD Ambulance, which serves an area that includes communities within a 45-mile (72 kilometer) radius of Saskatoon, recently acquired an additional two 12-hour ambulances to add to its fleet.
“The Saskatoon Health Region is working with us on a pilot project to help us deal with with our high call volume,” said Davies. “It’s part of a readiness model so that if you call an ambulance, we’re going to be there for you, instead of being tied up at hospital waiting rooms.”
Davies said the health region’s recent “14-day challenge” made a big difference in turnaround time for paramedics transferring patients to hospital emergency rooms.
“They were able to get our patients out of the hallways for the most part,” said Davies.
He said paramedics assigned to work with nurses at seniors homes; and stationed at community centres that normally experience high call volumes; helped ease the numbers of patients being admitted to hospital.
The ambulance company has also hired 21 new paramedics within the past three months. Davies said 10 people were hired earlier this spring and another 11 in May.
“We need the staff in order to respond to the increased demand for service,” said Davies.
school tours
The ambulance company opened its doors to a number of schools in the region, including Clavet Composite School, on May 27. The objective was to give students a look at what’s involved when emergency medical responders arrive on scene.
Devin Russin of Dalmeny, one of the paramedics who was recently hired on by MD Ambulance, showed students a training mannequin used by paramedics as part of the open house display. The mannequin simulates breathing, heartbeats and other vital signs.
“Depending on the age of the students, we can show them various aspects of the equipment and how it’s used,” said Russin. “Another goal is to show the kids that emergency responders are not scary. It can be a frightening experience for them in an emergency situation so we try and allay those fears through education.”