New Brunswick

New rapid response paramedics hit the road in rural areas

The Rapid Response units have been launched across the province Thursday morning.

2-year pilot project was created to lighten the load on rural ambulance services

Rapid response medics who will be driving the units had training in Moncton this week. (Submitted)

New rapid response units were launched across the province Thursday.

The five units were created under the previous Liberal government to lighten the load on rural ambulance services.

When a lone paramedic in a smaller vehicle is dispatched, he or she can provide initial emergency services if ambulances are tied up.

The communities chosen for the two-year pilot project are Saint-Quentin/Kedgwick, Minto/Chipman, Grand Bay-Westfield, Blackville, and the Acadian Peninsula.

"This rapid response unit does not replace the Saint-Quentin/Kedgwick ambulances," Jean-Pierre Savoie, the Ambulance New Brunswick director of operations, said in a news release.

This pilot project was created to deal with situations where ambulances are occupied by patients who need transportation and aren't in an emergency situation. Transfers make up 30 percent of all calls.

These units do not transport patients, so they're available for emergency situations. They are as equipped as a regular ambulance but without a stretcher.

"Timely care is often a matter of life and death," said Jacques Charest, regional manager for North New Brunswick in a press release.

"This model has worked well in other jurisdictions and we are anticipating it will make a significant contribution to care and patient safety here as well."

The service is different from the ambulance solution Premier Blaine Higgs proposed earlier this month. The Progressive Conservative government's solution is to have non-emergency crews doing the transportation of non-critical patients so ambulances will be freed up for emergency cases.