Red Deer mayor joins with Calgary, Lethbridge, and Wood Buffalo to call on province to stop EMS dispatch consolidation

The mayors of Calgary, Lethbridge, Red Deer and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo called on Premier Kenney and those in his Cabinet and Caucus to overturn the decision made by the Minister of Health to consolidate EMS dispatch.

The mayors said the current system works and municipal dispatch numbers prove that the cities are faster than the current centralized AHS dispatch centres. The mayors say they have continually requested information from AHS to prove a consolidated EMS system will be more efficient, provide better patient outcomes and save money, yet no rationale has been given.

We are asking all Albertans, whether residents in our regions or not, to join us in calling on the premier to reverse this reckless and dangerous decision, that threatens patient outcomes for all Albertans in medical emergencies where seconds count, said the mayors.

“The decision by Minister Shandro to consolidate ambulance dispatch unnecessarily puts the lives of Red Deerians, Central Albertans and all Albertans at risk, as anyone needing emergency ambulance care will experience delays in critical life and death emergencies,” said Mayor Tara Veer, the City of Red Deer. “We appeal to the Premier to reverse the irresponsible decision made by the Minister of Health. Our current municipal integrated emergency dispatch model continues to outperform AHS and dispatches an ambulance 18-21 seconds faster than the AHS dispatch centres. These critical seconds are imperative for patient outcomes.”

City of CalgaryMayor Nenshi said he is deeply disappointed with Minister Shandro’s letter late Friday afternoon announcing that he was moving forward with this decision.

“Our four communities have come together to provide an incredible amount of evidence and data and have worked in good faith with Minister Shandro to come to a resolution that supports the best patient outcomes, not only for our communities, but for all Albertans. Despite the evidence, Minister Shandro and Alberta Health Services are moving forward with a reckless plan that is more than a decade old.” 

The Wood Buffalo mayor said their region is larger than the province of Nova Scotia and they consistently dispatch an ambulance faster than AHS — we have the data to prove it.

The mayors are inviting all members of the UCP caucus to a meeting on Thursday to provide data, background information and personal stories that demonstrate the effectiveness of the current municipal dispatch system.