LETHBRIDGE, AB – Lethbridge is backing Red Deer as the fight against ambulance dispatch consolidation continues.
City Council held a special meeting Monday afternoon (Sept. 27) in which it unanimously passed a resolution to support that central Alberta city with an official complaint to the provincial ombudsman.
Marc Rathwell, the Chief of Lethbridge Fire & EMS, says he fully supports this move.
“I believe this is a good fight for our community,” stated Rathwell. “This saves our community, there are a lot of efficiencies with our (integrated Fire/EMS) system. If we don’t fight for it we won’t have it.”
Earlier this year, the Alberta government centralized EMS dispatch in four communities including Lethbridge and Red Deer, saying it will save the province a lot of money. That, however has been disputed by the affected communities which maintain centralizing ambulance dispatch will cost response time and cost lives.
There’s a hope that with Alberta having a new Health Minister, Jason Copping would perhaps reconsider the move made by his predecessor Tyler Shandro. Outgoing Mayor Chris Spearman told Council that Shandro was the only Health Minister over the last number of years who went down this road, even though impacted communities have been against the concept.
Spearman, who brought forward the official business resolution, says this EMS consolidation issue was and still is a big issue. “People who’ve had the unfortunate experience dealing with centralized EMS are frustrated when they call and say the incident is on Mayor Magrath Drive and people say where’s that on the other end of the phone. Valuable time is lost when people don’t understand the locale and geography.”