City council agreed to endorse a letter of intent that establishes the vision principles for the negotiation of the satellite collaborative ambulance dispatch agreement at this week’s meeting.
In February, the City along with Alberta Health Services announced a collaborative solution to retain dispatch in Red Deer while maintaining integrated fire and ambulance emergency response.
The province’s decision to reconsider some aspects of their plan for centralized dispatch came on the heels of many communities advocating for a new proposal.
The initial decision to centralize ambulance dispatch stemmed from a recommendation by the Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) in early March 2013 and would have seen Red Deer served by the Calgary dispatch service. The announcement in February confirms there will no longer be a transfer for dispatch to Calgary and that Red Deer will provide backup dispatch services for the province.
Since that agreement in principle was reached, City administration has been working with officials from AHS to capture the intent of this principle in writing.
The vision principles include ‘one province, one system’ which states that the ground ambulance dispatching service delivery model is seamless, borderless and patient-focused serving all Albertans. The principles also include ‘partnership, collaboration, understanding, accountability and stakeholder engagement.’
Elaine Vincent, the City’s director of development services told council that Red Deer’s 9-1-1 emergency communications provides dispatch services to more than nine EMS agencies and 68 fire departments.
“We service over 320,000 citizens within Central Alberta. We currently dispatch over 20,000 EMS incidents per year and we have the tools, technologies and the staff to carry out this work efficiently and effectively.”
The City of Red Deer service area extends from Nordegg to the west, Acadia Valley to the east, Ponoka County in the north and to Brooks in the south.
“Anytime 9-1-1 is dialed in this area for police, fire or ambulance, it is answered out of our state of the art communications centre,” said Vincent.
Councillor Lynne Mulder said this agreement with the province in terms of ambulance dispatch is a highlight for her since first being elected to City council.
“I really liked what happened, I like that the province heard us – although we were a little frustrated initially, we didn’t give up,” she said. “I think we proved that we can, when we are tenacious enough, move forward. The wonderful thing for me is that we didn’t do this so that we could win against the province, we did it so that we could win for our community. This is a win for our community and our citizens.”
Mayor Tara Veer agreed.
“The victory really does belong to the City staff who have worked so hard on this. Council was strong and resolute in your position and you were tenacious and not for political purposes but because it was the right thing to do. It was for the health and safety of the citizens both locally and in our region,” she said.
City council voted unanimously in favour of endorsing the letter of intent.