Starting on Thursday, new multi-patient vehicles staffed by emergency medical technicians (EMTs) will be in operation in Moncton and Fredericton.
Ambulance New Brunswick will use the vehicles to transport up to four patients at once who need to go to the hospital for non-urgent situations.
One of the vehicles will start serving the Saint John region in September.
“These vehicles will help free up and take the pressure off paramedics where they can answer a 911 call,” said Health Minister Bruce Fitch during a press conference on Wednesday.
Prior to Wednesday’s announcement, paramedics needed to wait with each patient before they were admitted to the hospital. This sometimes led to lengthy delays, known as offload delays.
Chris Farmer, an EMT, said in a typical day EMTs could handle up to ten offload transfers.
EMTs can be trained in nine weeks, compared to the 50 weeks of training required to be a paramedic, because they have a smaller scope of practice.
“We do have emergency medical training so worst-case scenario if something does happen, we’re able to intervene and provide medical assistance,” Farmer said.
He said the patients were assessed before they were transported to ensure their situation was not urgent.
Edgar Goulette, System Performance Vice President at Medavie, the organization that oversees Ambulance NB, said at a press conference that nearly half of all patients transferred in the last year were low acuity patients.
“With the addition of these new vehicles along with the onboarding of these new EMTs, we’ll be able to focus on transferring these low acuity patients allowing more paramedics to staff 911 vehicles and focus on emergency care in our communities,” he said.
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