Alberta Mayors Band Together to Fight AHS Decision to Close Dispatch Sites

Mayor Don Scott is saying ‘enough is enough’ to Alberta Health Services’ plan shut down the RMWB’s Emergency Medical Services dispatching site.

Scott joined mayors from across the province including Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer, and Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearmen in a press conference Wednesday afternoon to fight to keep the services the way they have been operating for many years.

Alberta Health Services announced Tuesday their plan to transition operations to one of the three provincial centres in Calgary, Edmonton, and Peace River.

The local centre is one of four across the province who had remained separate from the AHS dispatch system since 2009.

Chief Paramedic Darren Sandbeck tells Mix News there will be no changes for those who need to call 911.

“The 911 call itself will still be answered locally and will be transferred to one of our EMS dispatch centres with a touch of the button.”

This change will only impact emergency medical dispatch services. Regional Emergency Services and Wood Buffalo RCMP will continue to be dispatched by the RMWB.

The goal of the move is to reduce costs. The province is expected to save over $6 million annually.

Despite this, Sandbeck says the time for each call will stay the same.

“We do this hundreds of times a day across the province, not just ourselves but other public safety agencies as well, and there’s very minimal risk.”

Mayor Don Scott does not agree.

“This is about service delivery and saving lives,” said Scott.

“Our current model works. And for this region, has been in place since 1979. Our current system has better time based responses than the AHS model. Its unfortunate but as you know our region has become experts in emergency response. My region has a service delivery area the size of Nova Scotia. We often describe our location by landmarks and markers. There is absolutely no doubt that the AHS model will cause delays.”

Mayor Scott continued, saying our regions response times are half of AHS’s. He also emphasized that this battle has been fought and won before, but continues to come up over and over with AHS insisting their model will work and save money.

“No one knows the region like our own people. We can best protect families with the existing model. Our region will loose at least four staff with that local knowledge. This is an attack on our frontline emergency response. Enough is enough.”

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