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Alberta health minister not convinced EMS consolidation will impact response times

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Health Minister Tyler Shandro says he’ll review information given to him by the mayors of four Alberta municipalities who are fighting to keep their ambulance services local dispatched.

Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman joined the mayors of Calgary, Red Deer and Wood Buffalo last Friday in meeting with the minister up in Edmonton.

During a media conference on Monday (Sept. 28) Shandro was asked about this issue. He says Alberta Health Services is proposing a seamless integration in how EMS resources are dispatched throughout the province.

“If the evidence shows that response times would somehow be adversely affected then I’m going to be against it. That’s quite frankly not the evidence I’ve seen from AHS,” said Shandro.

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The concerned mayors have been united in saying that ambulance dispatch consolidation will indeed reduce response times and cost patient lives, despite the comments from the minister.

Shandro says he has committed to the four concerned mayors that he will take a look at the information they provided last week. “But look, I think any changes we make to emergency health services, including EMS, has to about making sure that we’re improving the care that patients get.”

Earlier this summer, AHS announced the changes would be coming to centralize EMS dispatch in those four communities, including Lethbridge. A plan which the government has said would save around $6 million a year.

For Lethbridge though, the concern has been around the city’s long-standing integrated Fire/EMS Service as paramedics are also firefighters and fire trucks very often respond to emergency medical calls around the community.

There has also been big concerns when it comes to those who will be dispatching ambulances from a central location and their knowledge of the local area.

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Tina Karst

A Lethbridge College alumnus, Tina moved back to the community two years after convocation, in September 2007, to become a member of the CJOC News Team. She started as a weekend reporter/anchor and now serves as Associate News Director. When Tina’s not tracking down local news, she’s either busy at home with Jordan and their two kids or creating custom macrame pieces for a growing list of clients.

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