Red Deer City Council requests the Minister of Health to keep emergency ambulance dispatch local

At today’s regularly scheduled city council meeting, council reaffirmed their request that the Minister of Health reverse Alberta Health Services’ decision to consolidate ambulance dispatch.

The City of Red Deer was notified on August 4, 2020 that Alberta Health Services intends to remove integrated municipal ambulance dispatch service in Red Deer, Lethbridge, Calgary and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and consolidate down to three AHS emergency ambulance provincial communications centres (Peace River, Edmonton and Calgary).

“We are disappointed that, once again, the issue of provincial ambulance consolidation is before us,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “Over the past 11 years, four health ministers have overturned AHS’ decision to consolidate ambulance dispatch as the evidence shows this decision will hurt emergency patient care.”

Red Deer’s current integrated municipal dispatch centre dispatches ambulance 18-21 seconds faster than the provincial communication centres. Under AHS consolidated dispatch, fire medics would not be dispatched immediately, or at all, resulting in delayed patient care that could mean the difference between life and death.

“We know that Alberta Health Services’ proposal to remove local ambulance dispatch from Red Deer, Calgary, Lethbridge and Wood Buffalo and consolidate down to three provincial communication centres, will put Red Deerians and all Albertans lives at risk, in critical moments where seconds count,” said Veer. “Red Deer’s integrated dispatch system is an effective system that delivers exceptional life-saving service to people in the Central Alberta region and by removing dispatch, patients will see a delay in response as our fire units may not be send when they are closer and provide lifesaving care in life and death emergencies when it matters most.”

Red Deer’s model of integrated fire and emergency ambulance service is regarded nationally and internationally for its efficiency and most importantly, patient-first approach. All firefighters and paramedics with Red Deer Emergency Services are fire medics; meaning they are trained to do both jobs, whereas AHS responders are only trained for ambulance service. Red Deer’s delivery model enables combined Fire/Rescue/Advanced Life Support Ambulance Service, as emergency responders are trained to respond to medical crisis, regardless of whether the call is made for fire or ambulance.

“We ask citizens to join us in our fight to keep ambulance dispatch local by writing into your local MLA, the Minister of Health and the Premier with your concerns on how this consolidation will negatively hurt patient outcomes,” said Veer.