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Mayor Nenshi says the decision to consolidate EMS 911 services is ‘terrible’

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the decision to consolidate 911 EMS with Alberta Health Services is a terrible idea. 

“There’s no money to be saved. It’s worse service, and it puts people’s lives at risk. This is a terrible idea,” said Nenshi.

Yesterday, Alberta Health Services released a statement saying EMS 911 dispatch services will be consolidated across the province.

“The adoption of this recommendation from the Ernst and Young (EY) AHS Review is a further evolution of Alberta’s promise to put patients first,” said Tyler Shandro, Alberta’s Minister of Health. 

“The provincial EMS dispatch system allows for better coordination of all EMS resources, including ground ambulances, and air resources, and reliable response times. EMS dispatch consolidation supports improved health integration and will facilitate broader health reforms.”

AHS believes the transition will reduce costs and save the province over $6 million annually.

The transmission period began on August 4 and will take place over six months.

“The consolidation is the right decision for any Albertan needing emergency medical care,” said Dr. Verna Yiu, AHS President and CEO. “This will improve care and ensure we are being fiscally responsible.”

Once the transition period is over all EMS calls will go through AHS EMS provincial communications centres located in Peace River, Edmonton and Calgary.

This wasn’t a good idea in 2009, 2011, 2013 – ‘It’s not a good idea now.’

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer, Wood Buffalo Mayor Don Scott, and Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman along with Naheed Nenshi met Wednesday to discuss Minister Shandro’s decision.

All four mayors took the same stance saying this decision was made in haste. 

“Yesterday morning for elected mayors received notification from a non-elected official of Alberta Health Services, that they were changing ambulance dispatch services. We were blindsided,” said Mayor Scott.

Mayor Nenshi said the proposed system will make it less efficient.

“The system we have right now allows you to get the assistance you need quickly and efficiently,” said Nenshi. 

“The system that is being proposed requires you to tell your story again and again and maybe again. It means that it’ll take longer for you to get help. And it won’t save any money.”

The mayors are not the only ones who think consolidating is a bad idea. 

The Alberta Fire Fighters Association put out a statement sharing their disappointment in the decision. 

“This decision is a short sighted decision that will result in negative patient outcomes for the residents affected by these changes. You can only cut so many costs and services before a life is lost. We know about first response and what is required to carry out effective cost efficient Emergency Medical Care and this does not do that,” said Brad Readman, President Alberta Firefighters Association.

“These reckless decisions that are being made without consultation from the front line first responders that they affect need to stop! I truly worry about not only the safety of our front line EMS providers but the citizens that they are serving.”