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EMS dispatch data has been requested by Calgary; AHS yet to provide

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AHS and the City of Calgary have had initial data conversations related to EMS dispatch consolidation, but no info’s changed hands yet.

On Nov. 2, AHS Chief paramedic Darren Sandbeck presented at Calgary city council and answered questions from councillors. Several councillors expressed frustration at the limited data AHS was making available.

At that time, Chief Sandbeck said he was open to a further “data conversation.”

But it didn’t sit well with Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra at the time.

 “Why are we not prepared with the full data set, not just a data set cherry picked from a certain period of time after there was a massive increase in response times,” he asked.

Since that time, the city and AHS have had preliminary discussions on the data the city is hoping to acquire, said Richard Hinse, director of Calgary Community Standards, the unit that oversees Calgary 9-1-1.

They followed up in writing immediately after that Nov. 2 tete-a-tete with AHS. An introductory meeting has taken place since, Hinse said.

The city’s asked for “event level raw data” for Delta and Echo (advanced life support skills) calls. Those are the calls to which medical first response (MFR – fire dept.) is typically dispatched.

“Once AHS consolidated within their current model, they now have the data of how long it takes around the communication time from the call that comes in to dispatch the ambulance or fire service,” said Hinse.  

“We’re looking for that data after consolidation, which AHS owns.”

AHS confirmed an introductory meeting happened Nov. 30 to learn the data the city wanted. Further meetings are planned.

When asked if they would provide the Delta and Echo event level raw data, AHS said they had no more information to provide on the matter.

Dispatch consolidation groundwork is underway

AHS said several operations meeting between AHS EMS staff and Calgary 911 have already taken place. The most recent were Dec. 2 and Dec. 10, they said.

The discussions have centred around the transition and transition planning.

“The City of Calgary EMS dispatch transition to AHS EMS is scheduled to take place January 26, 2021, as agreed to with the City during the ongoing transition project meetings,” read an emailed response.

Hinse said they’re working with the province on transition, while the data request and analysis moves ahead.

“We do have a team in place working for AHS planning should AHS make the decision to uncouple from us,” he said.

“That work is going on simultaneously, as it has to.”

The switch to AHS dispatch is expected to cost 45 jobs at the City of Calgary. Hinse said that’s not included in the 162 positions that will be eliminated because of Calgary’s mid-cycle budget adjustment. These jobs are in addition to that number, he said.

The province will save $3 million annually with EMS dispatch consolidation.

No further discussions with the Alberta Premier

On October 20, the four mayors whose EMS dispatch would be affected said they’d have to take the fight right to the Alberta premier’s office.

In a virtual scrum with reporters Thursday, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said that while the other three mayors have been engaged in active discussions this matter, he has not.

“Not one word,” Mayor Nenshi said of it being raised with Premier Jason Kenney. He did say they’ve had numerous conversations on the COVID-19 situation in the province.

“I am extremely disappointed this is an area where the provincial government doesn’t want to listen to the evidence. To the facts.”

Hinse remained hopeful the data share would result in keeping dispatch with the city.

“That would certainly be our hope,” he said.

“I’ve always been an optimistic man, so I’m going to stay on the side that I hope that we keep this dispatch center and I’m optimistic around that.”