Transport Canada is planning to move air ambulances to a larger fleet of planes in a bid to make them more reliable and more comfortable for patients, as well as improve the efficiency of the service.
The service will be able to carry up to 150 people in a single ambulance, but will have to reduce that number if the air ambulance fleet is to be scaled back.
The plan will also allow the service to be operated by an all-volunteer force.
The air ambulance will be used to transport patients with severe and chronic respiratory issues, and people with heart or kidney problems, said David Hildebrand, a transportation planner with Transport Canada.
“We’re going to see a lot of these people coming to Alberta for care and treatment and we’re going the extra mile,” he said.
“They’re going for more time, they’re going into longer-term care and they’re also going to be more productive.”
The air ambulance service will also help with air ambulance response times, Hildebrand said.
The province already has several air ambulant fleets in operation and it will be interesting to see what the number of aircraft will be.
Air ambulance services have been operating in the United States and Canada for more than a decade, but in recent years there have been reports of problems with their performance, particularly in remote and rural communities.
Hildebeldt said the air ambulancers would be a cost-effective way to get people to and from the hospital and provide faster response times to patients with a variety of medical conditions.
He said the service could help save money by reducing the number and size of ambulance transports.
The new service will launch next spring.
With files from The Canadian Press.