New fleet of ambulances to improve care and safety

The Province has signed a contract with Tri-Star Industries in Yarmouth to lease 146 new ambulances. They are expected to be on the road in August. This ensures the right mix of resources to improve emergency care and relieve pressure on paramedics and the emergency health system.

The ambulances will feature:

  • power loaders and power stretchers to help paramedics lift patients
  • updated interior and exterior lighting for paramedic and patient safety
  • redesigned interior cabinets to accommodate upgrades to paramedic equipment; paramedics will also be able to open the cabinets when outside the ambulance for timely access to emergency response kits
  • radio frequency identification (RFID) systems to tag and track paramedic equipment, ensuring items are not left behind at a scene
  • a longer wheelbase and a patient compartment for increased paramedic workspace and improved patient comfort
  • rear backup cameras.
  • The new ambulances were designed with input from paramedics to ensure they are ergonomically designed for increased efficiency and safety.

Under the agreement with Tri-Star, the Province will also expand the Emergency Health Services (EHS) fleet of patient transfer units and single-paramedic response units. The number of those vehicles is still to be determined.

Patient transfer units provide non-emergency transportation between healthcare facilities for patients who may require a minimal level of care during transport. Maximizing the use of patient transfer units will free up ambulances and paramedics to focus on providing emergency care.

Single-paramedic units respond to low acuity calls where patients are experiencing minor illnesses, with the paramedic seeing patients in the community. The paramedic will have the patient taken to the hospital if necessary. Because ambulances are staffed by two paramedics, the single units free up ambulances and other paramedics to focus on emergency care.

The 10-year contract with Tri-Star is worth $48.8 million.

The mix of vehicles in the EHS fleet is in line with recommendations made by Fitch and Associates, which reviewed Nova Scotia’s emergency medical services model in 2019.