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Mayors, fire chiefs meet with Health Minister Shandro in Edmonton

PHOTO. Back row: City of Lethbridge Fire Chief, Marc Rathwell and City of Red Deer Emergency Services Manager, Ken McMullen. Front row: Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Fire Chief, Jody Butz and City of Calgary Director of Community Standards, Richard Hinse

Mayors and fire chiefs from the RMWB, Lethbridge, Red Deer and Calgary spoke with provincial officials in the Alberta Legislature.

They met with Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard.

They met to express their opposition to the proposed consolidation of all municipal dispatch services in the province under Alberta Health Services (AHS)

Alberta made the announcement on Aug. 4, 2020.

RELATED: Mayor Scott and Fire Chief to discuss EMS consolidation at Alberta Legislature

Speaking after their meeting, Mayor Don Scott said he remains greatly concerned.

“I believe the information we shared is one step forward in this very important process. This consolidation is not about improving patient outcomes.”

Mayor Scott said he was an MLA when AHS last proposed consolidation over 10 years ago.

“We fought it then and won because the province recognized the negative impact it would have. Our provincial officials once again need to recognize that and reverse this decision.”

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said Shandro will seek more information and consult other municipalities about the impact of consolidation on local patients.

“Until the Minister formally reverses this decision and commits to keeping EMS dispatch local, we will continue to ask our community to put pressure on the government. We know that Alberta Health Services’ proposal to remove local EMS dispatch and consolidate down to three provincial communication centres, will not result in cost savings, and even more concerning, puts Albertans lives at risk, in moments where seconds count.”

RELATED: Mayor Scott urges residents to support local dispatch services

The delegation said local knowledge among dispatchers is key in getting help to patients promptly.

Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi said the decision lies with Shandro with the facts in front of him.

“The local knowledge and integration with fire services, who are first on the scene to deliver life-saving care in 50% of cases, cannot be overlooked if safety outcomes are the number one priority.”

Lethbridge mayor Chris Spearman also said they delivered evidence the current system is the most efficient.

“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. My hope is that they now understand the consequences of this decision and the Ministers will come to the same conclusion as those before them it does not make sense to remove EMS dispatch from our communities.”

The current contract between Wood Buffalo’s EMS and AHS ends on Jan. 31, 2021.