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Celebrating The 50th Anniversary of Paramedic Services Week

This week, we’re honoured to celebrate Paramedic Services Week. Each year, this week is acknowledged to play tribute to paramedics across the world. In Alberta alone, there are more than 4,000 life-saving paramedics who provide professional care to Albertans each and every day. As an essential component to Alberta’s healthcare system, we celebrate these highly skilled professionals in our communities.

EMS history is often overlooked and undervalued, but the evolution of paramedicine through time is truly captivating and tells a story of technological advancement and the need for safe, reliable emergency transport.

A brief history of ems

The history of paramedicine is incredibly rich, and dates back as early as 900AD with the earliest recorded ambulance. Despite it’s formation many centuries ago, it wasn’t until the 1960s when paramedicine began to take form similar to how it looks today.

During the Vietnam War, the use of field medics, helicopters, and field hospitals significantly reduced mortality rates. And by 1965, CPR and AR were widely used in hospitals and by paramedics. In the late ’60s the Emergency Department and 9-1-1 system were introduced for fast access to medical care. 

As paramedicine progressed into the ’70s, paramedics were required to uphold certain certification and qualifications to ensure they were properly trained to administer quality care. From 1970 onward, we’ve seen incredible growth in the programs, technology, and systems implemented within paramedicine to improve response times and patient care. 

The History of Associated Ambulance

Servicing over 130,000 sq km in Alberta, Associated Ambulance stands as a vital lifeline, ensuring that medical assistance reaches those who need it, wherever they may be. Since its inception in 1978 in Mayerthorpe, Associated Ambulance has been an integral part of the healthcare infrastructure, growing steadily over the past four decades to become a cornerstone of mobile healthcare in the region.

Founded in 1978 by Terry Schueler and Russell Yohemas, Associated Ambulance quickly established itself as a beacon of reliability and care. The addition of the first new service area in Whitecourt in 1979 marked the beginning of a journey that would see the company expand its reach across rural Alberta, forging strong relationships with communities along the way.

From the introduction of services in Drayton Valley, Evansburg, and Breton in 1988, to the inclusion of Jasper in 1992, Associated Ambulance has continually extended its footprint, ensuring that even the most remote areas have access to essential medical transport services. The growth continued with the addition of Smokey Lake, Lac La Biche, Athabasca, Vilna, and later, Rimbey, Westlock, Barrhead, Thorhild, Hinton, Edson, Sylvan Lake, Rocky Mountain House, and MaMeO Beach, solidifying the company’s commitment to serving Albertans wherever they may reside.

Throughout its journey, Associated Ambulance has not only provided essential medical transportation but has also become deeply ingrained in the fabric of the communities it serves. The trust and rapport built over the years are a testament to the dedication of every member of the Associated family.

In 2010, the conclusion of the Inter-Hospital Ambulance Service (IHAS), which conducted approximately 55,000 long and short distance transfers annually, including receiving patients via medi-flights, marked the end of an era, yet the commitment to providing exceptional care remained unwavering. The subsequent introduction of AMTS (Non-Ambulance Transport) in 2016 further expanded the scope of services, catering to a diverse range of medical needs.

Recent years have seen Associated Ambulance continue to evolve and adapt to the changing landscape of healthcare in Alberta. The addition of Nordegg in 2015, Cold Lake in 2022, and the commencement of Red Deer IFT (NET and BLS transports) in 2023, followed by the ongoing rollout of Edmonton IFT (NET and BLS transports) in 2024, are indicative of the company’s forward-thinking approach and its commitment to enhancing access to healthcare for all Albertans.

As Associated Ambulance looks to the future, it does so with the memory of Russell Yohemas, past president, who played an instrumental role in shaping the company’s ethos of compassionate care. His legacy lives on in every journey undertaken and every life touched, as Associated Ambulance continues its mission to be a beacon of hope and healing in rural Alberta.