CALGARY (660 NEWS) – City council is vowing to take on the health minister and the UCP government over its desire to centralize Calgary’s locally run ambulance dispatch.
Last month, Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced all EMS dispatching services would be consolidated to provincially run centres in Calgary, Peace River and Edmonton.
Shandro said the move would save Alberta Health Services (AHS) roughly $6 million a year and lead to better coordination for ambulance services.
The consolidation will see Calgary, Red Deer, Lethbridge, and Wood Buffalo’s local dispatch moved to the AHS centres, a move all four municipalities oppose.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi said this could result in longer response times and jeopardize safety.
Nenshi says it's an integrated system between firefighters & paramedics. Explaining "It's true the dispatch for ambulances likely will increase the response time just by a little bit, the problem is it'll take much longer for the firefighters to get there." #yyc #Calgary #Alberta
— Saif Kaisar (@StaySaif) September 18, 2020
However, Shandro refutes those claims saying it will not affect response times and could actually make them quicker.
On Twitter, Shandro said having locally run dispatch centres is redundant and pointed to the AHS centre in Edmonton which he said EMS response times are slightly lower than Calgary’s.
Right now, we pay four municipalities more than $6 million a year for their staff to dispatch AHS ambulances using AHS’ dispatch system.
It’s redundant, and it’s not safer or faster. Calls will be transferred instantly to AHS dispatchers. 3/3
— Tyler Shandro (@shandro) September 17, 2020
The transition is expected to take place over the next six months and will not affect local fire, police and Medical First Response, as that will still be dispatched by municipal services.