The City of Red Deer will continue to push for the Province to leave ambulance dispatch as is.
The Province has announced plans to transfer dispatch services to Calgary this October, but City council has opted to continue advocating for the status quo.
The decision to centralize ambulance dispatch came on the heels of a recommendation from the Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) in March.
“This move towards centralization means the dissolution of the ambulance dispatch business in Red Deer,” said City Manager Craig Curtis. “We urge the Province to reconsider this decision.”
Curtis said that City officials have met with local MLAs and provincial representatives in a bid to convince them the dispatch service works best out of Red Deer.
“Right now, Red Deer’s dispatch technology enables us to dispatch ambulance and fire at the same time ensuring a high level of service,” said Curtis. “Following a transfer of services this will no longer be possible because of technology limitations. This increases critical dispatch processing time and the chance for human error impacting the service our customers receive.”
The City is asking the Province to consider a model of five centres. Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer (central), Peace River (north), and a southern location.
“I believe the more than 320,000 citizens we serve through our dispatch service deserve nothing less than the best and I will persist in advocating for our citizens health and safety,” said Mayor Morris Flewwelling, adding that the City is awaiting word from the province by June 5. “We’ve been carrying on a fairly active advocacy.”
Flewwelling added that if the Province chooses not to reverse their decision on the service, “We will ensure our EMS continues to provide the service Red Deerians expect.”
Councillor Cindy Jefferies said Red Deer offers an ideal spot for dispatch service given its proximity to so many in surrounding communities. “I think that puts us in a good spot to provide services or to provide back-up if Calgary or Edmonton (needed) it for one reason or another.”
Councillor Tara Veer agreed. “We have an integrated service that has been a model for the rest of Canada; for other municipalities in establishing how they want to integrate their fire and ambulance services.
“I think we need to do all that we can to ensure we take every step along the way to maintain that level of service.”
Councillor Dianne Wyntjes said that in trying to convince the Province to continue dispatch service, the City was being an advocate not just for Red Deer but for Central Alberta at large.
“In this case, there’s a saying – if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. We should be the back-up, we should continue our dispatch. That will only add to the level of service in EMS versus changing it.”