Opportunities - Provincial EMS STEMI

Provincial EMS STEMI
Alberta Health Services


Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is a leading cause of death in Alberta and this is estimated to increase over the next 15 years. The timely delivery of standardized Emergency Medical Services (EMS) treatments for heart attacks, essential for patients’ survival, clinical outcomes and quality of life, is not always possible in Alberta because of wide-spread geography and the fact many people live in rural environments.  

“Time is muscle” for patients with ST-elevation myocardial infraction (STEMI). The promptness at which the blood flow is restored to the blocked coronary artery (i.e. reperfusion) is crucial for reducing the damage to the heart muscle, while improving clinical outcomes and patient experiences. Fibrinolytic (FL) is available in all hospital emergency departments (EDs) but currently, angioplasty is only available in Calgary and Edmonton. 

To address this problem, a program called Vital Heart Response (VHR) was created in Northern Alberta. The VHR developed and implemented a treatment protocol which includes Emergency Medical Services (EMS) immediately consulting a cardiologist who then decides if  the  patient should be given blood thinning FL on route to the site that can perform angioplasty (Edmonton or Calgary) or the patient should be transported directly to the site without blood thinning FL. However, the VHR program is only available north of Innisfail so Albertans south of Innisfail are currently ineligible for FL via EMS. If this care is not standardized across the province, the implications could result in poorer outcomes for some Albertans and include problems such as heart failure (HF), cardiogenic shock, recurring heart attacks, and possible death.

We need your help to make this VHR reperfusion model standardized care by expanding to areas not currently served (i.e. Central Zone south of Innisfail, remote areas of Calgary Zone and South Zone). We want to collaborate with former patients and family caregivers at all stages of the project, from co-design to the funding application to spreading the VHR program in the rest of the province. We want to ensure that the patient and family caregiver lived experiences and voices are represented throughout the life of this important initiative.

Roles and Responsibilities

This patient partner opportunity is looking for 2-3 Alberta-based patient and family caregivers with lived experience of cardiovascular disease and treatment to contribute as equal members of the research team on any, or all of the following aspects:

  1. Co-designing and adapting EMS STEMI application for provincial funding and standardized delivery across the province
  2. Guiding the project through different stages of its lifecycle via attendance at working group meetings and webinars
  3. Assisting with the education of healthcare providers
  4. Participation in evaluation of the project and sharing the results in ways that are accessible and available to all end-users

The start dates and time commitments will vary, and patient partners will not be expected to assume all roles and responsibilities listed above. They can choose which activities they would like to be involved in, depending on their availability and schedule! As a team member, patient partners will always be provided with training and support in these activities.

Time Commitment

Depending on what part of the research program you would like to be involved in, the start date and time commitment can vary.

The start of this 2-year project is dependent on whether or not it is funded by Alberta Health Services (AHS). If funded, the anticipated start date will be in the last quarter of 2020.


This is a volunteer position, but Patient Advisors will be reimbursed for any travel-related expenses to attend in-person meetings, as per AHS policy.

Contact Information

To learn more about this opportunity or to apply, please contact the Project Team

Agnes Lehman                                                           




Danijela Piskulic