Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman says it remains to be seen if the provincial government will continue with the planned consolidation of local emergency medical dispatch.
Spearman was joined by the mayors of Calgary, Red Deer, and Fort McMurray as they went to Edmonton Thursday (Sept. 24) to talk with the ministers of Health and Municipal Affairs in the hopes of convincing them to keep things the way they are.
Spearman says overall, he’s very concerned. “Minister Shandro thanked us at the meeting and said that he would review the information. But his news release afterwards says that he believed consolidating ambulance dispatch makes sense. He never said that at the meeting so we’re a little confused and somewhat disappointed.”
The four mayors are united in their concerns that consolidating EMS dispatch will impact ambulance response times and cost lives.
“When it comes to emergency services, the goal of our municipalities, and I believe the Province of Alberta, is to provide excellent patient outcomes using the most efficient system possible. We delivered evidence to the Ministers that makes it very clear that these goals are being met with our current system and removing integrated EMS dispatch will threaten the safety and well-being of Albertans,” stated Spearman following the meeting Thursday.
Alberta Health Services announced during the summer than centralizing dispatch could save around $6 million dollars a year.
Lethbridge-East UCP MLA Nathan Neudorf weighed into the EMS dispatch consolidation issue Friday. He says having Lethbridge retain its integrated Fire and EMS dispatch is something he’s had a number of conversations with Health Minister Shandro about.
“In my experience, public confrontation and demands are the least effective form of resolution and negotiation,” says Neudorf. “For me, it’s about the best possible health outcomes for people in Lethbridge and maintaining that quality of service we have now. If they can’t commit to that or meet that, I will be the first in line to make sure people in Lethbridge get the service they need.”