Stettler District Ambulance Association (SDAA) has signed an agreement with Alberta Health Services (AHS), extending their contract to provide Advanced Life Support (ALS) service to the Stettler region for another 17 months, until March 31, 2024.
Key points outlined in the extended agreement include:
• The extension and continuation of of SDAA’s Advanced Life Support (ALS) service for the region. ALS service means ambulances are staffed with paramedics who are able to administer life-save medications for heart attack, stroke victims and more. SDAA says ALS service is key to operating successfully and saving lives in rural regions, where patients may be an hour or more from an emergency medical facility.
• Funding SDAA for four new full-time staff (an increase of 50 per cent). These new staff will partially transition SDAA away from Core/Flex scheduling. Core/Flex schedules require staff to work 24 hour shifts for four days straight followed by four days off. Staff is paid for a minimum of 12 hours and are on call for the other 12 hours. Staff receive overtime only when the total calls exceed the 12-hour allotment.
“Ambulance services across the province struggle with Core/Flex delivery as it doesn’t consider how many hours the employee has to remain awake,” stated the release.
Under the new agreement, Core/Flex will be retained for only half of the service delivery. The remainder of shifts will “assembled shifts,” where staff work a straight 12 hour shift and are relieved by another crew at the end of the 12 hours.
• Acknowledgment by AHS for bad debts. SDAA said it has been shouldering “the majority of the cost of unpaid ambulance bills for the past 10 years, but will now be reimbursed more fairly for bad debts by AHS.”
• Increased capital funding for the purchase of ambulances. According to SDAA, In 2011 when the original ambulance contract agreement was signed, an ambulance cost $125,000 to purchase. Today, a fully equipped ambulance costs closer to $275,000.
“The mileage on our ambulances has increased substantially with a large increase in Inter-Facility Transfers (IFTs), as AHS moved to providing more centralized health services.”
Stettler District Ambulance’s current five-year contract was entered into in 2012, with AHS exercising their option to extend for an additional four years in 2017. A further extension was agreed to in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
SDAA began renegotiations with AHS on the 2012 contract in March, 2022.
Stettler District Ambulance is a non-profit organization that has been providing Advance Life Support Service (ALS) to Stettler and Stettler Region since 1972.
According to Stettler County’s website, Stettler District Ambulance answers emergency calls in surrounding communities that include Donalda, Delburne, Red Willow, Rochon, White Sands and Scenic Sands, Erskine, Nevis, Alix, Botha, Gadsby, Big Valley, Byemoor, Bashaw and Endiang.