Red Deer, Lethbridge Join RMWB in Hopes of Paying For Local EMS Dispatch Service

The RMWB’s hopes of paying for local EMS dispatch service is getting support from Red Deer and Lethbridge.

The three communities released a joint statement on Tuesday claiming each would cover the costs of their own service to avoid transitioning into the provincial system other areas across Alberta currently operate under.

Back in August, the GoA announced they would be consolidating operations in these communities, along with Calgary’s, as they believe this would increase dispatch times.

This has been disputed, especially by the RMWB.

The municipality has released their own data suggesting 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.

Due to this issue and other concerns, the three communities are offering to pay for their own service.

“The decision by the Provincial Government to consolidate ambulance dispatch will, without a doubt, mean the degradation of emergency patient care for citizens in Red Deer and Central Alberta,” said Tara Veer, Red Deer Mayor. “We know there are people alive today in Red Deer because FireMedics responded before an ambulance in a life and death emergency medical call.”

Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman echoed the same message, noting their system is the best for their community.

“The loss of EMS Dispatch in Lethbridge would come at a much higher cost to our community. We would need to invest millions to alter our system in order to maintain the current level of service, losing much of the efficiencies we have today.”

Calgary has not made any commitment to pay for their own service, however, they are continuing to advocate for each of the communities.

So far, the province plans to keep moving forward with the transition despite the RMWB, alone at the time, stating they would cover the cost.

The province is expected to save around $6 million as Alberta Health Services would provide annual funds to support the local efforts. The local cost is around $660,000.

The full move is expected to take place on January 12.

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