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Picture Butte sends second letter regarding EMS dispatch change

Posted on September 29, 2020 by Sunny South News

By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News

Picture Butte town council will be sending another letter regarding the change in EMS dispatch to the province.

During their regular Sept. 14 meeting, Picture Butte town council received a request from the City of Lethbridge regarding the province’s EMS dispatch change.

At the beginning of August, it was announced that following a recommendation from the Ernst and Young Alberta Health Services Review, AHS Emergency Medical Services (EMS) would be moving forward with plans to consolidate 9-1-1 EMS dispatch services, and transfer four municipally-run contracted satellite services in Calgary, Lethbridge, Red Deer and the Municipality of Wood Buffalo to AHS EMS provincial communication centres in Peace River, Edmonton and Calgary.

The transition would affect EMS 9-1-1 dispatch services only, and all local municipal fire, police and Medical First Response calls will continue to be dispatched by local municipalities. Starting on Aug. 4, the change will take a total of six months to complete.

While AHS says that 9-1-1 callers would notice no change in service, municipalities have disagreed with the proposed change, stressing that the change would result in a loss of regional knowledge that is critical for patients in rural areas with limited health care access due to either geography or a lack of local service.

The City of Lethbridge, whose regional service serves the Lethbridge County area and would be consolidated under this plan, has asked the municipalities that its EMS dispatch service serves to write to Health Minister Tyler Shandro to call for a reversal of the decision.

Mayor Cathy Moore noted that while the town had already written a letter outlining their concerns with the EMS dispatch change, “it never hurts to send another letter”.

“The last thing we want to do is lose our 9-1-1 dispatch,” said Moore.

Council passed a motion for Moore to sign and send the letter.

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