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Alberta announces new funding to improve emergency care in rural areas

A volunteer firefighter in Coaldale, Alta. (CTV News Calgary) A volunteer firefighter in Coaldale, Alta. (CTV News Calgary)
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The province announced more than $3 million in funding for medical first responders (MFR) on Wednesday.

As part of the MFR program, 200 fire departments, urban and rural municipalities, and Indigenous communities across Alberta will receive $3.85 million in an effort to improve emergency care in the province.

In many cases, MFR agencies are the first to arrive on scene and provide life-saving care until an ambulance arrives, officials say.

The government says the new money increases the funding for MFRs by $3.75 million this year.

"These agencies are an essential part of our emergency response network and our heroes to those in their times of greatest need. They provide critical care to our loved ones when every second counts," Health Minister Adriana LaGrange told reporters on Wednesday morning.

"Many of these responders are volunteers, and are sometimes pulled away from their day-to-day lives at a moment's notice to rush into the unknown."

The money will be split into two streams. A $1.35 million pool will be used to purchase new and modern supplies, including external defibrillators, medical kits, CPR mannequins, and training courses

The remaining $2.5 million will be used to help MFR agencies deal with population growth and inflation, including increases in equipment and fuel.

LaGrange says the money is annual funding, and will be spread out equally between agencies, adding devoting more resources to MFR agencies is critical as a result of the health-care crisis in Alberta.

"We are at a crucial, crucial moment in health care in Alberta, as we move forward with our work to refocus the health care service delivery model," she said. "As part of this effort, we're prioritizing reducing EMS response times and enhancing access to care in rural areas across the province."

The province had previously provided $100,000 in annual funding to MFR agencies.

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