Emergency Health Services

Emergency Health Services

Emergency Health Services (also EHS) is a division of the Department of Health in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.

It is responsible for the province's pre-hospital emergency health services, including 152 ground ambulances and their support facilities, two helicopters and a fixed-wing aircraft, and approximately 900 paramedics.

Many ground ambulance support facilities are co-located with municipal fire stations in smaller rural communities, while having customized paramedic stations in larger centres. Every hospital in the province and many community health centres have helipads for EHS air ambulance service.

EHS operates a central communications dispatch centre in Burnside Business Park in Dartmouth for coordinating emergency medical services across the province.


Prior to 1995, Nova Scotian's relied on approximately 50 private, largely funeral services, and public ambulance operators to provide emergency medical care. This resulted in serious inconsistencies in the level of medical care, staff qualifications, and the type and condition of ambulances; some areas of the province had much better service than others. Most medical air transportation was provided by the Canadian Forces, through its Air/Sea Rescue Service.

In 1993, world renowned EMS expert Dr. Ron Stewart, MD was elected to the Nova Scotia Legislature. He was appointed the province's Health Minister and quickly commissioned several reports on health care reform. Dr. Mike Murphy, ER Director of the IWK Children's Hospital authoured an exhaustive report on the state of the province's ambulances.

"The Murphy Report" was quickly adopted and by 1994, the transformation of the system began, with the provincial government taking over control of ambulance operations and consolidating it into a single entity called Emergency Health Services. The contract with the Ambulance Operators Assoc of Nova Scotia, which represented the private services was not renewed and the frontline operations of EHS was contracted to a newly formed company, EMC Emergency Medical Care Inc., a subsidiary of Medavie/Blue Cross and it has since developed into a recognized world leader in pre-hospital care.

Medavie EMS is the "parent company" of EMC, and also runs Island EMS, the provincial service on Prince Edward Island, and Ambulance New Brunswick.

Provincial Programs


EHSNS initiated air ambulance services in 1996 in partnership with Canadian Helicopters and Alberta's Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society. STARSNS operated the service until 2001 when it opted not to renew its agreement with EHSNS, citing philosophical diffences over management and fundraising.Under its new name LifeFlight, air ambulance services, were operated directly by EHSNS until 2008 when Emergency Medical Care (EMC), a subsidiary of Medavie Blue Cross, which provides ground ambulance services to EHS in Nova Scotia, as well as equivalent organizations in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, assumed control. The service originally served Nova Scotia exclusively before subsequently expanded to the neighbouring provinces and being sub-contracted.

LifeFlight is a 24-hour/day air medical transport service for emergency, neonatal, and hospital transfer transport. Most of the missions are for hospital to hospital transfer where the patient requires advanced medical treatment at another facility, usually at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre or the IWK Health Centre, the Maritime's Children's and OBS hospital, both in Halifax.

To date, there are 82 helicopter approved landing zones in Nova Scotia that are Transport Canada certified with additional helipads in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. Most of the time, in the case of a motor vehicle accident, the highway itself is used for landing and take-off. Numerous volunteer fire departments and Department of Natural Resources depots are also used in rural areas where rotor clearance permits.

LifeFlight uses the Sikorsky S-76-A as its primary mode of transport and a King Air 200 as its secondary mode of transport.

Atlantic Health Training and Simulation Centre

The Atlantic Health Training and Simulation Centre is a training facility for emergency medical services personnel such as paramedics.

Medical First Response Program

The medical first response program is a volunteer mostly rural program that trains people to give advanced first aid, including oxygen administration and early defibrillation, and provide relevant medical information to paramedics before they arrive. Dominated by the volunteer fire services, trained people are certified as Medical First Responders (MFR)'s.

Nova Scotia Trauma Program

The Trauma program is to facilitate optimal trauma care by providing education, research leadership in injury prevention and control and trauma system development.

EHS facts

*Paramedics are members of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 727
*Dispatchers are members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers [http://www.cupw.ca/index.cfm/ci_id/4893/la_id/1.htm]
*From the start of the air ambulance service on May 13,1996 to December 31,2003 there have been 3,682 LifeFlight missions
*The ground ambulance fee can range from $120 to $600 depending on the call. If a person has no insurance to cover the fee a monthly payment as low as $5.00 without interest can be paid .

See also

* Ornge (Ontario Air Ambulance)

External links

* [http://www.gov.ns.ca/health/ehs/default.htm Website]
* [http://www.ehsmfr.ca/ Medical First Responders Website]


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