The City of Red Deer and the provincial government are nearing a collaborative workable solution to retain ambulance dispatch.
Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne met last week with Mayor Tara Veer and City Manager Craig Curtis to review a revised provincial dispatch plan.
“There are still some details to work through, but in principle we believe we have a solution that will enable us to retain ambulance dispatch and maintain integrated fire and ambulance emergency response,” said Veer. “We are well positioned to continue delivering ambulance dispatch service to our 320,000 regional citizens and we will continue to focus on regional dispatch operations for Red Deer and surrounding communities with a commitment to efficiency and exceptional service.
“This is an issue that has been discussed for four or five years both locally and provincially. The province has shifted towards a collaborative model as opposed to a consolidated model and we are very pleased with that direction.”
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. Last week’s meeting with Horne confirms there will no longer be a transfer for dispatch to Calgary and that Red Deer will provide backup dispatch services for the province.
“This is a positive outcome for Red Deer and surrounding communities,” said City Manager Craig Curtis. “While we don’t know all the specifics such as service area boundaries, we have shifted from cautiously optimistic to optimistic that there will be a solution. The Province’s decision to reevaluate their plan and revisit this conversation demonstrates their respect and commitment to the health and well-being of citizens and communities across the province.
“The model is a unique one and we will flush out the details and hopefully everything will work out well. At this stage we are optimistic and I think there has been a real effort by the provincial government to find a new model.”
Horne also presented the revised proposal to mayors of Lethbridge, Peace River and Fort McMurray.
More information on the revised proposal is available on the Government of Alberta web site at www.alberta.ca/health or by visiting www.reddeer.ca.