Second unit to launch in June
Winnipeg, MB – Access to primary health care services for some of Winnipeg’s most vulnerable and chronically ill residents will soon increase as a second Emergency Paramedics in the Community (EPIC) unit is added, announced the City of Winnipeg and Shared Health earlier today.
The EPIC program, operated by Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) and staffed by paramedics, provides early health assessments and intervention planning to Winnipeg patients who are identified as top users of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Emergency Department services and who are referred to the program. The program currently operates a single vehicle 12 hours per day, but will expand its services in June when a second unit is added.
“Our patients are often experiencing mental health, addictions, or chronic health issues,” said Dr. Rob Grierson, Chief Medical Officer, Emergency Response Services, Shared Health and Medical Director, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Services. “By expanding the EPIC program, we can enhance our ability to provide valuable treatment to these patients in the community which results in reduced call volumes to EMS and less visits to an Emergency Department.”
EPIC Paramedics proactively visit patients as well as respond to a patient’s location when they call 911 for assistance. If the patient’s medical needs do not require transport to an Emergency Department, they receive a complete medical assessment by the EPIC unit. Once the assessment is complete, arrangements are made to connect the patient with an appropriate community health resource such as home care, an Urgent Care Centre or Community Health Access Centre. This ensures the patient receives the most appropriate and timely care.
Since its launch, EPIC Paramedics have completed over 7,000 assessments and managed over 2,700 at-risk referrals to the program. This has resulted in a 56% reduction in 911 calls by EPIC patients and a 62% reduction in ambulance transports to an Emergency Department.
“Our Paramedics are a valuable part of our community’s primary-health care team and their scope is ever-evolving and expanding,” said Ryan Sneath, Assistant Chief, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service. “Our Paramedics are not just working on ambulances and fire apparatus; they are also filling important roles where they have the opportunity to build longer-term relationships with individuals in the community, finding relevant and efficient ways to better their life quality.”
The second EPIC unit, which will also offer services 12-hours per day, formally launches on June 6, 2019.