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Municipalities send formal complaint to Ombudsman re: EMS dispatch consolidation

A paramedic loads a patient into the back of an ambulance in downtown Calgary on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. (PHOTO: Tom Ross - 660 NEWS)

FORT MCMURRAY (660 NEWS) – A formal complaint has been sent to the Alberta Ombudsman regarding EMS dispatch consolidation.

Despite push back from the mayors of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, Red Deer, Calgary, and Lethbridge, the province moved the municipalities onto the consolidated system this past January.

All four municipalities have complained of significant issues with the consolidation, which they believe put patients at risk.

“Since the province forced a consolidated dispatch system on our communities, we have witnessed the deterioration of ambulance dispatch,” said Mayor Don Scott in a joint press release with his fellow mayors.

“Our commitment to patient safety, and positive patient outcomes remains top priority. Filing a complaint with the Alberta Ombudsman is an important step in continuing our fight toward reversing this decision.”

Mayors Scott, Tara Veer, Naheed Nenshi, and Chris Spearman believe the consolidated system is flawed and hope the Ombudsman will listen to their concerns.

“Our communities have tried every avenue to communicate with the Government that this system is flawed and to strongly dispute the effectiveness of it, but our calls for a third party review remain unanswered,” said Mayor Veer.

“We will not be giving up the fight for what we know is in the best interest of patient safety. We hope that filing this official complaint with the Alberta Ombudsman reiterates that we will exhaust every avenue possible to revisit the Government’s decision, and ultimately we hope the Ombudsman will review the decision of AHS.”

Mayor Spearman said he and his counterparts continue to sound the alarm.

“This is an alarm that our Provincial Government and AHS are still not listening to,” he stated. “Our decision to file a complaint with the Alberta Ombudsman is the step I hope will finally amplify our serious concerns and make patient safety a priority for our communities.”

Mayor Nenshi said the consolidated system is putting lives at risk, which is unacceptable.

“We’ve seen the data and listened to those on the frontline and we know that this dispatch system cannot meet the needs of patients in our cities,” Nenshi stated. “We hope that the Alberta Ombudsman will consider the severity of the situation and convince our provincial government to make the right decision.”

Anyone who has experienced delays or degradation of service since the consolidation of EMS dispatch is urged to reach out to the province to voice their concerns.