Responsibility for Emergency Medical Dispatch is being handed back to the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo after nearly four years.
On Tuesday, the province announced it will be contracting the RMWB to operate and staff a local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) call centre in Fort McMurray. The change comes as part of a sweeping set of measures aimed at streamlining ambulance services across Alberta and lowering EMS wait times.
In January 2021, Alberta took over responsibility for ambulance dispatch in Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo, a move that concerned the RMWB, which felt the centralized dispatch lacked knowledge of local geography resulting in longer response times.
Tany Yao, MLA for Fort McMurray – Wood Buffalo and a former first responder himself said he was pleased by the government’s decision to return dispatch to Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo.
“Our government is making this common-sense decision to return dispatch to RMWB Emergency Services, acknowledging the region’s distinct needs,” said Yao.
“The new EMS dispatch centre will be a critical hub for the provision of prehospital care in my region – serving outlying residents, remote communities and industrial sites,” added Brian Jean, MLA for Fort McMurray – Lac La Biche, and Alberta’s Minister of Energy and Minerals.
The new dispatch centre will use Alberta Health Services’ technology, and work in concert with the province’s three other call centres in Peace River, Edmonton, and Calgary.
“This represents an important first step in EMS dispatch being restored to the municipality, and to the internationally recognized, local expertise, knowledge, and experience of our own regional emergency services,” said Mayor Sandy Bowman.
“This is great news for everyone who calls this place home.”
Jody Butz, Director of Emergency Management for the RMWB echoed Mayor Bowman’s while thanking the Mayor and Municipal Council for their tireless advocacy for regional emergency services.
“We look forward to working with AHS to establish a collaborative and long-term agreement for an EMS dispatch centre in Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo,” added Butz.