With EMS crews tied up in the ER the result is delays to 911 calls and longer response times. In the case of Edmonton they spent only 92 minutes per day with high response times a year ago which ballooned to 4.5 hours this year. Rather than try and change the ER departments, they put crews in the ER to allow the ambulances to get back on the road.
Between 1997-2001 I helped organize the medical teams for the Caribana Parade in Toronto (a retrospective review of the event can be found here). Because of the crowds, EMS response times would quickly become horrific because it took so long for ambulances to get too and from hospitals. To rectify the problem we put a medical tent on site (with excellent effect). It improved service for the patients, relieved the load on the EMS system (because each ambulance could respond to many more calls) and was a blast to work at.
In Edmonton, it's a similar problem except that the slow turn-around for ambulances is because of the delay at the ER. My opinion on this? Congratulations to the EMS chief that had the guts to put crews at the hospital. I suspect passing the patient from one EMS crew to another (especially in an ER) is not without it's legal liability but they're looking at the greater good and doing the best they can with the system. As for the emerg departments, I cannot find fault. To accept a patient that you know you can't monitor carries great risk. On the one hand, they've now transferred the burden of slow response times to the EMS service but on the other hand EMS usually has a greater pool to call on in dire situations (such as neighbouring ambulances and other first responders).
The government could act decisively in this situation with staffing for this specific situation or legislation to protect the ER personnel that accept the patient in a bad situation. Having the staffing, physical space and legal protection to create a non-ambulatory triage area would go a long way to allow ER departments to accept these patients during busy times. The long term answer, unfortunately, is greater long-term beds to get chronic care patients out of the emergency. And that will not be a quick fix. In the mean time, someone from the government needs to look to a better solution other than creating a virtual ambulance in the emergency department.