– Shan­dro to re­view con­cerns of Al­berta may­ors

Medicine Hat News - - FRONT PAGE -

Al­berta’s health min­is­ter says he will re­view the con­cerns of four may­ors who say the gov­ern­ment’s plan to con­sol­i­date 911 emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vice dis­patch ser­vices will put lives at risk.

Tyler Shan­dro met Thurs­day with Cal­gary Mayor Na­heed Nen­shi, Red Deer’s Tara Veer, Leth­bridge’s Chris Spear­man and Mayor Don Scott of the Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Wood Buf­falo.

The may­ors have been lob­by­ing hard against the change, which the prov­ince says would save money and make the EMS dis­patch ser­vice more ef­fi­cient.

Nen­shi says 911 dis­patch should be op­er­ated at the mu­nic­i­pal level be­cause lo­cal knowl­edge and in­te­gra­tion with fire ser­vices can’t be over­looked if safety is the top pri­or­ity.

Veer, Spear­man and Scott say the meet­ing shows Shan­dro is will­ing to seek out ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion from mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to un­der­stand the ef­fect con­sol­i­da­tion would have on lo­cal pa­tients, and they hope the prov­ince will come to the con­clu­sion that it does not make sense to change the sys­tem.

Shan­dro says it was a good meet­ing and he will con­sider what the may­ors have told him.

“I think con­sol­i­dat­ing am­bu­lance dis­patch into AHS makes sense. It will make the sys­tem work bet­ter and save money that we’ll rein­vest in the health sys­tem,” Shan­dro said Thurs­day in an email.

“Most im­por­tantly, the ev­i­dence I’ve seen shows it won’t change re­sponse times or cause de­lays for am­bu­lances or other first re­spon­ders. But I re­spect the may­ors’ con­cerns and the in­for­ma­tion they shared, and I com­mit­ted to them that we’ll re­view their con­cerns and get back to them be­fore the tran­si­tion be­gins.”

The fire chiefs of the four mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties also at­tended the meet­ing.

Al­berta Health Ser­vices says it has three EMS dis­patch cen­tres in Cal­gary, Ed­mon­ton and Slave Lake that cur­rently dis­patch am­bu­lances for 60 per cent of the prov­ince’s pop­u­la­tion and cover most of the prov­ince’s ge­o­graphic area. The gov­ern­ment an­nounced the plan to con­sol­i­date the dis­patch ser­vice last month.

At the time, the four may­ors said they were blind­sided by the de­ci­sion and said it would put the lives of their res­i­dents at risk.

The may­ors then asked for a meet­ing with Shan­dro and called on Premier Ja­son

Ken­ney to re­verse the de­ci­sion.

Tyler Shan­dro

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