Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman is concerned with a recommendation in this week’s released external review of Alberta Health Services (AHS) which could impact the city’s EMS dispatch.
The report states “the workload currently handled through service agreements with the City of Calgary, City of Lethbridge, City of Red Deer and Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Dispatch Services is duplicative of what AHS’ EMS communications centres currently provide and can be consolidated and managed by AHS”.
The recommendation is that doing just that would save money. “From an efficiency perspective, AHS would spend less time administering agreements and working with four external agencies on dispatch operations and performance management”.
Mayor Spearman though says that would not be a good thing for Lethbridge, given our integrated Fire and EMS here. “If an ambulance is tied up, we send a fire truck. Our people are dually-trained. We have paramedics that can deal with any health situation and any health emergency. We think the only way to efficiently handle that with our integrated services is also having and managing the dispatch”.
The City of Lethbridge crossed this same bridge back in 2013-14 and was able to avoid any changes with the PC government of the day. Mayor Spearman notes the province back then realized there were efficiencies in providing dispatch services to people in regional areas.
“We are very concerned with inefficiencies and actual health services to patients and possible delays in accessing and receiving services, ” says Spearman if this happens. “This is something that we will certainly want to have input with and we will be contacting our colleagues across the province to develop a common case to go before the Alberta Health Minister. This is not a good recommendation from a patient point of view”.
The Mayor stresses if Lethbridge lost it’s local dispatch it would more than likely result in delays and communication problems.
The recommendation to consolidate dispatch services in on page 121 of the AHS Review Final Report.