AHS reviews 92-year-old’s downgraded 911 call

Alberta Health Services (AHS) says it has conducted a review into events that led to a 92-year-old’s 911 calls being downgraded.

Early this week, CityNews covered the story of Barbra Ross, a 92-year-old woman who has been in a hospital for over a week after her calls to 911 were downgraded to 811 as part of the Alberta government’s plan to free up ambulances.


In a statement to CityNews, AHS said, “a patient may require emergency department care, but this does not mean they also require EMS transport. Calling 911 for an ambulance should be reserved for urgent or life-threatening emergencies.”

AHS added patients are triaged based on acuity while noting that a patient won’t necessarily be seen faster if paramedics bring them in.

Under the new plan, if a call gets redirected to 811, nurses will ask additional questions to assess the immediate situation. If the nurse believes the situation is urgent, they will redirect the call back to 911.

“Health Link’s RNs use evidence-based protocols that utilize evidence-based guidelines and provide safe and patient-focused clinical options for non-emergency patients who have called EMS and been transferred to 811,” said AHS.

“The nurse verifies there are no priority symptoms and gathers additional information by asking additional questions of the caller. Based on the caller’s answers, a recommendation for care and support is provided.”

A similar incident also happened in Calgary, where a 72-year-old was denied an ambulance on Feb. 1.

– With files from Carly Robinson

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