Affiche “A portrait of rural pre-hospital services in the province of Quebec” – congrès de l’ACMU (Bourdon E, Fleet R et al.).
*L’équipe du Dr Fleet a remporté une nomination spéciale pour cette affiche
Introduction: Rural emergency departments (EDs) are important safety nets for 20% of Canadian citizens. In Quebec, the province’s 26 rural EDs treat an average of 19,000 patients per year and are on average 300 km from levels 1 and 2 trauma centers. These distances signify that Emergency Medical Services (EMS) play a considerable role in the care of rural patients. EMS in the Quebec province are private local services. There are no published reports on EMS in rural Quebec. As part of a larger study on rural emergency care, this descriptive study aimed to offer a comprehensive portrait of EMS.
Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews with managers of all paramedic services in rural Quebec. Interview questions focused on number of transports, training, and availability of telemetry, GPS technologies, and work schedules.
Results: Fifty managers of the 51 private companies serving the 26 rural EDs in Quebec were interviewed (response rate 98%). All were primary care paramedics (PCP). In 2010, EMS transported 40,671 patients, with 10,228 emergency transports to the rural EDs. A total of 7956 inter-facility transfers were conducted, 1499 of them emergency. Each ED required between 88 and 700 inter-facility transfers. A total of 60% (n=31/51) had GPS technology, only 25% (n=13/51) had telemetry features. Work schedules varied with 13% (n=7/51) of companies offering shifts of less than 12 hours, 28% (n=14/51) 24/7 weekly shifts, and 56% (n=29/51) a combination
Conclusion: This is the first study to describe rural EMS in Quebec. The finding that Quebec’s rural EDs are served by 51 privately-owned companies is unique in Canada. The considerable number of EMS transports, including inter-facility transfers, may reflect lack of local resources in rural EDs, the vulnerable population served, or the increased trauma risk in rural areas. Future studies should examine inter-facility transport reasons, costs, times and adequate training/scope of EMS practice.