Con­sol­i­dat­ing EMS 911 dis­patch ser­vices would save money

National Post (National Edition) - - CANADA -

ED­MON­TON • Al­berta is con­sol­i­dat­ing all re­main­ing mu­nic­i­pally run emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vice dis­patch call sites in a move that it says will save money and im­prove pa­tient care.

The change will af­fect EMS 911 dis­patch ser­vices in Cal­gary, Lethbridge, Red Deer and the Regional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Wood Buf­falo.

Al­berta Health Ser­vices has been run­ning a dis­patch sys­tem for the rest of the prov­ince since 2009.

It says the con­sol­i­da­tion will al­low the EMS sys­tem to send the near­est avail­able am­bu­lance to a pa­tient re­gard­less of geo­graphic bound­aries.

The gov­ern­ment also says it will save more than $6 mil­lion per year.

Of­fi­cials say the change that will take place over the next six months will not af­fect the local dis­patch of mu­nic­i­pal fire, po­lice and med­i­cal first re­sponse ser­vices.

“The provin­cial EMS dis­patch sys­tem al­lows for bet­ter co-ordination of all EMS resources, in­clud­ing ground am­bu­lances, and air resources, and re­li­able re­sponse times,” Health Min­is­ter Tyler Shan­dro said in a re­lease Tues­day.

Dr. Verna Yiu, AHS pres­i­dent and CEO, says con­sol­i­da­tion is the right de­ci­sion for any Al­ber­tan need­ing emer­gency med­i­cal care.

When the tran­si­tion is com­plete, EMS calls will be han­dled by AHS EMS provin­cial communicat­ions cen­tres in Peace River, Ed­mon­ton and Cal­gary.

She says call­ers to 911 will not no­tice any change.

Al­berta Health Ser­vices says it plans to hire 25 new emer­gency communicat­ions of­fi­cers and cur­rent mu­nic­i­pal em­ploy­ees will be en­cour­aged to ap­ply.

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