‘Creating added pressures’: Brandon EMS calling for additional support amid increased transfer calls

The president of the Brandon Firefighter Paramedics is calling for some additional help as the city deals with air transfers from small Manitoba communities.

To help limit ground ambulance use and speed up medical transfers from rural communities, the province started an air ambulance program that would bring patients to either Winnipeg or Brandon so they get the care they needed.

Terry Browett, the president of Brandon Firefighter Paramedics, said the system is great for rural communities as it saves them from losing an ambulance, but the arrangement is now taxing Brandon’s ambulance system

“All these patients being funnelled into the larger centres are creating more of a workload in excess of transfers for our units,” said Browett.

He said Brandon has two primary ambulances, and when an air transfer comes in, either one or both ambulances have to go to the airport to pick the patients up, noting it could cause delayed service for others who are needing an ambulance in an emergency.

“It’s just creating added pressures now on our services, without any added resources for us.”

In 2021, Brandon firefighter paramedics completed 348 transfers, but in 2022, there have already been 397 transfers as of June.

With the added pressure, Browett is calling for another ambulance and trained staff to join the fleet to ensure residents are still getting the care they need.

“We’ve been over 75 years with only two ambulances and we need some help. So an additional ambulance would be a good start to help relieve some of the stressors that we’re seeing.”

Shared Health said it may take an hour for an ambulance to transport a patient to or from the Brandon Municipal Airport, but added it is a time-saver for EMS who would otherwise have to drive several hours to transport patients by ground.

“Use of the air ambulance also allows ground ambulances to more frequently stay in the Brandon area, allowing paramedics to be more readily available to respond to 911 calls for service as needed in the community,” a Shared Health spokesperson said in an email to CTV News Winnipeg.

“Additionally, Shared Health recently added a transport service in the Brandon area to assist with the safe transfer of low-acuity patients. This service helps us better manage transport volumes, allowing ambulance resources to more frequently remain focused on responding to 911 calls.”

Browett said he wants to reiterate to citizens that they are doing their best to maintain the service they provide in Brandon.

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