Happy 2022 everyone! I sincerely hope everyone had a chance to spend some time connecting with friends and family through the holidays and managed to re-charge their batteries a little bit. It certainly hasn’t been an easy year and I suspect the coming year will have its challenges as well.

Typically, a message like this at the beginning of a new year is filled with optimism and hope, and while I truly believe that there are a number of things that are taking place within our profession to be optimistic about, it would be inappropriate to gloss over the challenges that we have faced through the course of this pandemic. We have seen record high call volumes collide with staffing shortages, extreme response times for front line crews, fluctuating government restrictions that affect our personal lives and for the College, ongoing responses to the many changes to regulations and legislation, all of which are related to this pandemic.

Many of us also had to deal with the passing of friends and family, and our profession did not escape this reality either. We lost a number of valued members through 2021, and as a regulator, we understand and value the contributions that each of these individuals has made to the profession. The EMS Foundation has launched the Alberta Fallen Paramedic Memorial which will serve as a permanent memorial to honor EMS fallen members, and the College intends to continue to support this initiative and ensure that those that passed get the recognition they deserve.

On a more positive note, through December we saw over 3,000 members successfully update their Professional Liability Insurance (PLI) in the portal, and a considerably smaller number of suspensions than ever before. The concept of having to renew PLI each year is still relatively new to us as a profession, particularly to members like myself who have been around a few decades, but it was refreshing to see the number of suspensions this low. Quite a few reminders were sent throughout December because the Health Professions Act requires each of us to have valid PLI to work in Alberta, and no one wants to get a suspension notice on the first of January. Our Registration department has created a short article with some answers to frequently asked questions about suspended practice permits due to expired PLI, which can be found in this edition of the Pulse.

Provincially, we continue to work with the educational stakeholders to incorporate more competencies into our education programs, particularly at the PCP level. Nationally, we are working with other provinces to set some baselines on regulatory requirements and standardize the scopes of practice between provinces, including the Critical Care Paramedic (CCP) designation. As much as I would like to be able to start implementation of the CCP designation, there is a lot of groundwork that needs to be completed before a request to the Minister to amend our regulations can be presented. It is important to get this right the first time, and with the collective efforts from across the country working towards this, I know we will get there.

As we look at what 2022 holds for us as individuals and as a profession, I do think there is much to be optimistic about. Barriers still remain, and many of these problems won’t be solved overnight, but there really are a lot of good people in our profession that are trying to do the right thing at every opportunity. Let’s continue to be compassionate towards our patients, have each other’s backs, and keep doing the best we can.

Take care and stay safe,

Tim A. Ford