Saskatchewan Pilots EMS Triage System to Optimize Patient Care

Saskatchewan is trying a new initiative to revolutionize emergency medical services with the introduction of a triage system in Regina and Saskatoon. Designed to address patient flow challenges and mitigate ambulance offload delays at emergency departments, the program is slated to commence this June.

A key partof the system is the implementation of triage software supported by Registered Nurses. When non-emergent calls are received by Emergency Medical Dispatchers, RNs will assess the situation and direct patients to alternative healthcare options if ambulance transport is deemed unnecessary. This strategy aims to alleviate pressure on EMS resources and ensure that patients receive timely care in the most appropriate setting.

Health Minister Everett Hindley says the initiative is significant.

“This new support system will streamline services for our EMS providers and help ensure that patients are seeing the right healthcare provider in the right location at the right time,” he stated.

Currently a considerable number of patients transported to emergency departments in Saskatchewan via 911 calls may not require hospital-level care. Because of this – urban and rural EMS responders often face delays when offloading patients, tying up resources and hindering their ability to respond to other emergencies promptly.

When the new program launches – a dedicated RN will be stationed at each of the Regina and Saskatoon Medical Communication and Coordination Centres operated by the Saskatchewan Health Authority and Medavie Health Services West. These posted nurses will be available for 12 hours a day to assess incoming calls and provide guidance on appropriate care pathways.

Rod MacKenzie, SHA Provincial Clinical and Support Services – Community Care Executive Director said in a government release “Providing appropriate care to all patients in the most suitable setting is the best way to ensure individual care needs are being met and that our ambulances are available for the next response.”

Gerry Schriemer, Chief Operating Officer of Medavie Health Services West, said this is a welcome evolution in the system – “Adding secondary triage with Registered Nurses… will provide our region with additional care options when transport may not be the most appropriate option.” Medavie Health services provide emergency paramedic and dispatch services under contract with the SHA.

The provincial government has allocated a $7.5 million increase in annual funding in the 2024-25 Budget. This funding boost will support EMS and community paramedicine positions in Saskatoon and other locations, including rural and northern communities.

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