Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia hopes to free up ambulances by hiring 100 non-emergency drivers

The Nova Scotia government announced Wednesday they will be hiring 100 new transport operators to handle routine patient transfers to reduce the pressure on Nova Scotia’s ambulance system, which has been criticized for lengthy delays in service.

Non-paramedic staff will transfer patients to free up health workers for emergencies

The Nova Scotia government is hiring 100 new transport operators to handle routine patient transfers. (Submitted by Emergency Health Services)

The Nova Scotia government announced Wednesday it will be hiring 100 new transport operators to handle routine patient transfers.

The non-paramedic staff are being hired to reduce the pressure on Nova Scotia's ambulance system, which has been criticized for lengthy delays in service.

"We recognize the pressure the Emergency Health Services system is under and how this impacts patients, paramedics and the delivery of emergency care," said Michelle Thompson, Nova Scotia's minister of health and wellness.

In 2021, EHS responded to 182,000 calls, an average of 500 per day; 30 per cent of those calls did not require medical care during transport.

Currently, there are 80 transport operators who support EHS's medical transport service and patient transfer units. The new hires will increase the number to 180.

"Reducing our reliance on ambulances to transport non-critical or non-urgent patients was a recommendation of the 2019 Fitch report and will mean more ambulances will be available to respond to emergencies," said Thompson.

The new 100 jobs will cost around $6.5 million annually and will be absorbed within the existing budget.

"We were a bit surprised because we weren't notified of the announcement," said Kevin MacMullin, the business manager for the union that represents paramedics in Nova Scotia. "These new operators will be able to transfer patients between facilities that don't require any patient care."

MacMullin said the announcement is a good thing, but the union wants to meet with the health minister to get more details.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Palmeter is an award-winning video journalist born and raised in the Annapolis Valley. He has covered news and sports stories across Nova Scotia for 30 years.

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