BC Ambulance is testing out a pilot project that would reduce the number of paramedics who have to stay with overdose patients in hospital emergency rooms.
The HALO project is aimed at freeing up paramedics to get back on the streets more quickly and responding to calls.
BC Emergency Health Services Director of Patient Care Delivery for the Vancouver Coastal Health district Joe Acker says at the moment, the number of overdoses coming through hospital doors has been increasingly detaining paramedics.
“We can have sometimes four, five, or six ambulances at a hospital, that’s 12 paramedics with six patients. HALO is there to try and free up all those ambulances to get them back on the road.”
He says by stationing a new Health Authority Liason Officer in the ER, crews on the road will be able to hand off patients instead of waiting at the hospital with them.
“The HALO officers are paramedics and unit chiefs and they go to hospitals to help make sure that patients can be transferred to hospital staff.”
On top of freeing up paramedics, Acker says it could have a positive outcome for ERs too.
“There’s a lot of potential for interpersonal conflict between nurses and paramedics and we don’t want that. So we put these positions on to really smooth that over. We’ve got one person that’s there to do the negotiations to make sure that we can maintain good relationships. Instead of every paramedic saying ‘we need to get out of here, we need to get out of here’, we have this person coming in and saying ‘Hey, we are really busy, what can we do to help you?'”
Paramedics are required to stay with each overdose patient until there’s a bed available or a patient leaves on their own.
There are two HALO paramedics rotating between Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Hospitals.
The pilot program runs until March.