N.S. paramedics revive 'Code Critical' campaign to raise awareness of staffing shortages
HALIFAX -- Paramedics in Nova Scotia are sounding the alarm.
A series of tweets from the union claims there is a serious ambulance shortage at times in the province.
The effort is called "Code Critical," and it's designed to draw attention to what they say is a growing problem.
The paramedic’s union started the initiative three years ago, but discontinued it when call volumes dropped during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now that they’re picking up again, "Code Critical" has been revived.
These tweets show ambulance shortages in different zones across Nova Scotia, including Antigonish and Halifax.
"I hate to say it, but that’s a common day," Michael Nickerson, the paramedics union CEO said from Sydney, N.S.
The International Union of Operating Engineers points to staffing levels, delays unloading patients at the emergency room, and shift overruns as reasons for the ambulance shortage.
"The shock value is in HRM and CBRM because they are the more populated areas," Nickerson said. "But what happens when they go down in coverage then they draw from the rural communities to bring those ambulances in."
"The impacts on the system are felt province-wide and it’s concerning that again the lives, health and safety of Nova Scotians are put in jeopardy every day," said Progressive Conservative MLA Colton Leblanc.
The province commissioned the Fitch report three years ago, seeking recommendations to improve ambulance service, and Leblanc says that report hasn’t been released.
A statement to CTV from EHS on Friday reads in part:
"The EHS system expands and contracts based on call demand. There are always paramedic crews available to respond to an emergency call."
Nickerson says the province’s 1,100 paramedics work 12-hour days, four days on, four days off. It’s common for shifts to run as long as 15 hours.