Strathcona County Emergency Services is mourning the loss of a former member.

Mike Hart, 43, was serving as an Advanced Care Paramedic when he suffered a cardiac arrest at Airdrie's Urgent Care Center. He passed away on Saturday (Dec.18).

"We are saddened to share the news that a former Strathcona County Firefighter/Paramedic and current Alberta Health Services Paramedic has passed away this weekend. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. May he rest in peace" said Strathcona County Emergency Services in a social media post.

Hart is survived by his father and two brothers.

Ambulance availability for Hart

The sudden and unexpected death of Hart also inadvertently put the discussion of ambulance availability to the forefront in recent days.

The day Hart died in Airdrie, the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) — a trade union representing paramedical technical, professional and general support employees in the public and private healthcare sectors of Alberta — posted on their social media pages that on Dec.18 there were two red alerts in Airdrie.

A red alert is triggered when there are no available ambulances to respond to emergencies within Airdrie. That same day, an Airdrie ambulance would respond to an emergency in Calgary, with an estimated route time of 31 minutes, while a Calgary ambulance would respond to an emergency in Airdrie, with an estimated route time of 26-37 minutes.
 
HSAA  in their statement on Hart's passing made it clear that they had "no doubt [that] immediate care was rendered by trained health-care professionals – care in which our fallen colleague would have participated, had he not become the patient."
 
Due to patient confidentiality, it is unknown whether Hart's chances of survival would have been impacted if an ambulance was available in Airdrie.

Alberta Health Services, in their social media reply on Twitter, said "a shortage of resources did not play a factor in the care and treatment our colleague received." 
 
However, HSAA, believes there is a correlation. In their statement in response to Hart's death, they wrote, "There was no Airdrie ambulance crew available to respond. The fact that they had been pulled away from their community when this happened will be a hardship for our members who lost one of their own. It is unacceptable that communities like Airdrie are being continually left without an ambulance to respond to emergencies. Every minute matters when urgent care is needed – lives are at risk." 

Co-written by Anna Ferensowicz