Paramedics Save Lives

Brad Cathers, MLA for Lake Laberge

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, May 30th, 2014
by Brad Cathers, Minister of Community Services

The national Paramedic Services Week, which started May 25 and runs until May 31, recognizes the individuals who make up Canada’s Emergency Medical Services and their contributions to their communities. This year’s theme, Our Family Caring for Yours, speaks to the large community of paramedics who, according to the Paramedic Chiefs of Canada, make up the third largest health care provider group in the country.

Yukon Emergency Medical Services (EMS), operating within the Government of Yukon’s Protective Services division, includes 58 staff members and more than 155 volunteers territory-wide.

Your Yukon EMS team provides emergency pre-hospital care to Yukoners and visitors to the territory. It is also responsible for air and ground transportation of patients to and from the healthcare facilities throughout Yukon and in southern Canada. It is an essential partner in the Yukon government’s healthcare system.

Annually, Yukon’s EMS team responds to over 7,000 calls: 5,200 calls in the Whitehorse area and 1,300 in rural communities, as well as 860 air medevacs from rural communities to Whitehorse and to medical facilities outside of Yukon.

As Minister of Community Services, my government colleagues and I have been working to ensure paramedics and volunteers are able to do their jobs effectively, providing the best care possible for Yukoners.

Over the last number of years we have added EMS staff in Whitehorse and placed daytime paramedic staff in Dawson City and Watson Lake. Clinical and medevac operations have been expanded and EMS infrastructure upgrades have been made in several communities.

This year, two new ambulances were put into service as part of our continuing operational plan to replace units on a multi-year/distance-traveled basis. These two units allowed our EMS to retire the two oldest units in its fleet. Together with the Director of Yukon EMS, I had the privilege of unveiling these new ambulances in February.

The unveiling took place at the new $8.1 million Emergency Response Centre in Whitehorse, which was officially opened in November 2013. Built to post-disaster construction standards, it houses Whitehorse’s primary ambulance station, as well as Protective Services and Yukon EMS corporate offices. The existing ambulance station next to the hospital now serves as Whitehorse’s second station. Together, these two facilities are improving response capability to residents of the greater Whitehorse service area and providing enhanced emergency service.

On behalf of the Government of Yukon, I want to take this opportunity to thank Yukon’s Emergency Medical Services team for their commitment and dedication to keeping Yukoners and visitors safe. Whether full-time or volunteer, our paramedics, medevac crews, critical care nurses and emergency response coordination officers have very difficult jobs, but they are always ready to provide skilled and compassionate care in times of need. They make a big difference in our lives every day and are always ready when called upon.

As part of Paramedic Services Week, Community Services is profiling Yukon Emergency Medical Services practitioners on Twitter and Facebook.

Yukoners can learn more about the people behind EMS, by visiting:
Twitter: @CSYukon and using #psweek2014