146 newly designed ambulances on the road beginning in August

Nova Scotia will soon have a new fleet of ambulances and response and transport vehicles, ensuring the right mix of resources to improve emergency care and relieve pressure on paramedics and the emergency health system.

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.

“In an emergency, Nova Scotians want high-quality ambulances that are well-equipped and safe,” said Health and Wellness Minister Michelle Thompson. “The mix of vehicles is based on call volume and type and will ensure we are using our resources efficiently so Nova Scotians can get the care they need more quickly.”

Photo credit: Communications Nova Scotia

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 patient compartment for increased paramedic workspace and improved patient comfort
— rear backup cameras.

Photo credit: Communications Nova Scotia

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 illness, with the paramedic seeing patients in the community. The paramedic will have the patient taken to 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.

“We are excited about the new contract with the Province. Being a Nova Scotian company, I am very proud to continue building high-performance ambulances and emergency vehicles that will serve the citizens of Nova Scotia and couldn’t be prouder of our employees for their hard work and dedication to their craft. We are happy to be able to continue our close collaboration with EHS and their service provider EMC to design and manufacture vehicles to meet the ever-changing demands of the pre-hospital system.”
     – Blair Cottreau, President and CEO, Tri-Star Industries Limited

“We are pleased to see this announcement from Minister Thompson, which brings new technology changes to our fleet of vehicles, replacing older units in service and increasing our capabilities. We look forward to other announcements that will enhance paramedic retention and the ability to respond and serve Nova Scotians.”
     – Kevin MacMullin, Business Manager, International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 727

“Having this contract means we get to keep building quality vehicles for Nova Scotia. It gives me pride to continue building emergency vehicles that save lives. It also lets me stay in my hometown of Yarmouth to work.”
     – James Wallace, Tri-Star Industries employee

Quick Facts:
— in 2021, EHS responded to 182,000 calls – an average of 500 per day; about 30 per cent of the calls did not require medical care during transport
— founded in Yarmouth, Tri-Star Industries is a custom vehicle manufacturer specializing in ambulances
— the government recently announced EHS is hiring 100 more transport operators to handle routine patient transfers

Additional Resources:
Mandate letter of the Minister of Health and Wellness: https://novascotia.ca/exec_council/letters-2021/ministerial-mandate-letter-2021-DHW.pdf

Tri-Star Industries Limited: https://www.tri-star.ca/

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