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Mayors: EMS dispatch consolidation has led to delays, tech glitches, communication mix-ups

LETHBRIDGE, AB – Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman continues to push back against provincial EMS dispatch consolidation.

He, and the mayors of Calgary, Red Deer, and the Municipality of Wood Buffalo, held another joint press conference Monday to shed light on what they call “significant public safety issues.”

Spearman says since consolidation took effect in Lethbridge on Jan.12, there have been several delays, communications mix-ups, safety issues and serious health incidents that he says are “extremely concerning.”

“We have also experienced an extreme lack of understanding, at the provincial level, for what resources we have available in Lethbridge and area and how our integrated service works. These are critical pieces to ensure we are giving the very best patient care as quickly as we can.” – Chris Spearman, Mayor of Lethbridge

The mayors are requesting a third-party external review of the EMS dispatch system be conducted to provide recommendations to improve Alberta’s emergency services.

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The mayors are also calling for an immediate investigation into a technical outage on the evening of Tuesday Jan. 26 at the AHS South Communication Centre.

Between 10:30pm and 11:42 pm, AHS dispatchers were left without key resources like Computer Aided Dispatch (“CAD”) interface between AHS CAD and the fire CAD; GPS tracking of ambulances; mobile data terminals; and the ability to access ambulance mobile phone numbers.

The mayors say AHS did not notify local emergency dispatchers at the time of the outage and have not provided any clarification on the outage since, despite requests for an explanation.

Alberta top paramedic responds:

Alberta’s top EMS official is refuting claims by the four mayors. Chief Paramedic Darren Sandbeck says EMS consolidation has not resulted in any adverse events, response delays, or negative outcomes.

“Let me be very clear. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest the recent consolidation of EMS dispatch has lead to any delays or inappropriate responses in any of the communities where consolidation occurred,” Sandbeck told a Zoom news conference Monday.

Sandbeck says that outage was completely unrelated to EMS consolidation and it would be “wildly inaccurate” to suggest otherwise.

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