City Council and The City of Red Deer remain opposed to the Government of Alberta’s decision to consolidate emergency ambulance dispatch and remove local municipal dispatch from Red Deer, Calgary, Lethbridge and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. City Council has formally asked the Province to allow The City of Red Deer to fund emergency ambulance dispatch for Red Deer and surrounding communities, in order to keep dispatch local.
Currently, The City of Red Deer receives $1.2 million annually from Alberta Health Services (AHS) to operate local ambulance dispatch through Red Deer Emergency Services’ 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Centre. Consolidated ambulance dispatch would result in $1.2 million of lost revenue for The City and end The City’s ability to integrate dispatch.
At today’s Council Meeting, City Council approved one-time funding of $722,800 for 2022 to maintain dispatch services, plus $477,200 for 2021 and 2022 to cover the incremental cost of funding emergency ambulance dispatch should the Province accept Council’s offer.
The Government of Alberta’s decision to consolidate ambulance dispatch is planned to take effect on January 12, 2021, and would mean Red Deer and Central Alberta ambulance calls will be dispatched from the south AHS communications centre in Calgary. City Council has repeatedly asked the Government of Alberta to provide evidence that AHS dispatch is better for patient outcomes and have not received a response. Last week a formal request was made to Premier Kenney to reverse this decision of AHS.
“City Council remains extremely concerned that the decision by the Province of Alberta to consolidate ambulance dispatch will mean the degradation of emergency patient care for citizens in Red Deer and Central Alberta, as the current municipal model provides the best possible patient outcomes,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “If the Province won’t consider reversing this decision, then we are prepared to fund ambulance dispatch locally in an effort to protect the health and wellbeing of Red Deerians. The City has been providing FireMedic services to AHS at no cost for a number of years, a value worth $2.15 million in 2019 alone. Council remains committed to a zero per cent property tax increase in 2021 and 2022.”
The City of Red Deer operates an integrated Fire and Emergency Ambulance Service with firefighters and paramedics dually trained as FireMedics. Red Deer is a model for other communities across Canada in the way we deliver our combined Fire/Rescue/Advanced Life Support Ambulance Service, as emergency responders are trained to respond to medical crisis, regardless if the call was made for fire or ambulance.
“We are extremely concerned that under AHS dispatch there will not only be an impact to patient care in medical emergencies, but our first responders will see increased risk as fire and ambulance dispatchers will no longer be in the same room, communicating safety and patient information in real time,” said Ken McMullen, Deputy General Manager, Development and Protective Services. “The City’s proposal to fund ambulance dispatch locally means our operations at Red Deer’s accredited 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Centre would remain the same, and residents will see no delay in response times from Red Deer Emergency Services.”
For more information on this, please visit reddeer.ca/secondscount.
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The City of Red Deer