Province Still Planning To Consolidate Local EMS Dispatch Services Despite RMWB Covering Costs

The provincial government is planning to continue transitioning local EMS dispatch services into one of three provincial sites.

That’s according to Alberta Health Services who note they’re moving forward as planned despite the RMWB planning to allocate funds in the 2021 budget to pay for it.

The annual cost is estimated to be around $660,000.

Since announcing the plan to consolidate the sites in Wood Buffalo, Calgary, Red Deer, and Lethbridge in August, the GoA and AHS have continued to defend the move.

AHS Chief Paramedic Darren Sandbeck has noted nothing would change for those who call 9-1-1.

“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,” he said.

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

In a previous interview with Mix News, Health Minister Tyler Shandro also argued the provincial system is much better than those currently implemented in Wood Buffalo.

“If you look at the response times in places where it is consolidated like Edmonton… let’s compare Calgary to Edmonton, the Calgary response times aren’t as good.”

However, this has been disputed by the RMWB.

According to Regional Emergency Services, local dispatchers send out ambulances 48 seconds faster in around 90 per cent of calls and verify addresses 30 seconds quicker than their provincial counterparts.

“I do not want to see anyone in this region having a heart attack or stroke not get the ambulance service that they should because of a decision that’s been made by the province,” added Mayor Don Scott.

Meanwhile, the RMWB is planning to continue looking at other alternatives to keep services in the region.

“Last week, Council unanimously approved the allocation of the funds required to keep this service local, to provide the fastest possible response times across our large municipality to residents in life or death situations. We continue to advocate to the provincial government on this matter.”

The entire transition is expected to take place in early 2021.

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