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Minister Shandro to cities: We’re consolidating EMS dispatch

The EMS dispatch consolidation spat isn’t over, according to the mayors of Calgary, Red Deer, Lethbridge and the RM of Wood Buffalo.

In a letter (posted in full below), which was posted later to Twitter, Minister Shandro said they’ve be moving ahead with EMS consolidation.

“My decision is to not overturn AHS’ decision, and I look forward to supporting them and your municipalities during the transition to ensure that emergency health services in your communities can improve,” the minister wrote in the letter.

RELATED: 911 – Why Calgary opposes the EMS dispatch change

The mayors issued a statement Friday afternoon hours after receiving word from Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro that the province would proceed with the dispatch changes.

“We are strongly opposed to this Friday afternoon announcement by Minister Shandro, conveniently delivered just as the first major winter storm blows into Alberta. His letter contains many inaccuracies and we will address these, together, early next week,” the statement, sent via email, read.

EMS dispatch prompted special meeting

Calgary held a special meeting of council Sept. 28 to discuss the issue. They brought together different people within the City of Calgary and other municipalities that had experience with the consolidation.

At stake, the municipal leaders say, is the time it takes to dispatch additional resources in tri-services (police, fire, EMS) calls. They say it will risk patient safety and potentially the safety of medical personnel.

In the five-page letter, Minister Shandro disputes the risk.

“I have heard it suggested that this change is an unwarranted risk or a ‘step into the unknown,’” he wrote.

“I absolutely reject such a suggestion.”

He said they’ve been using the AHS ambulance dispatch system in 60 per cent of the province since 2009. He wrote that it’s a system user in the UK, Australia and New Zealand – along with most other provinces in Canada.  

“It’s the best practice and the standard practice in Alberta, in most other provinces, and in other countries whose health systems are most like ours,” Minister Shandro wrote.

As mentioned in the statement, the mayors are expected to more fully respond next week.


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