Subscribe RSS Feed Email

Mayors continue to highlight critical issues with provincial EMS dispatch

May 1, 2023 3:04 PM
(Red Deer, Alberta)

January 19 marked two years since the transition of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) dispatch from the municipalities of Calgary, Lethbridge, Red Deer, and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. For the health and safety of all Albertans, the Mayors of these four regions continue to advocate to the Provincial Government and Alberta Health Services to return local dispatch for a stable and integrated service.

Regional monitoring shows consistent data that substantiates original claims that centralized EMS dispatch has resulted in a degradation of service to Albertans. Trends identified to Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services in April of 2021 are still current today, and include:

  • Addressing errors or delays (verifying the address of the emergency)
  • Delay in Medical First Response Dispatch (Fire Department Assist)
  • Critical Safety Alerts not issued for EMS crew safety
  • Deviations in Medical Priority Dispatch System Protocol

These four regions represent 43 per cent of the province in the number of residents served. Each of the dismantled satellite EMS dispatch centers are cross trained 9-1-1 call takers, and both fire and medical dispatchers and are fully capable of providing services to Albertans within the Alberta Health Services EMS dispatch system.

“First responders from Calgary, Lethbridge, Red Deer and Wood Buffalo have consistently stated that EMS dispatch belongs within our local 911 systems, to ensure that all calls receive an integrated response. In the past, Calgary received global accolades for the integrated nature of our response to emergency calls and we urge the Province to reinstate this successful model.”

- Jyoti Gondek, Mayor, City of Calgary

“The safety of our residents is our number one priority which is why we continue to advocate for improvements to the EMS dispatch system. We’ve proven that we can safely and effectively operate dispatch at a local level and be more efficient with our emergency services resources at the same time. It makes the most sense for the wellbeing of our residents and our first responders.”

- Blaine Hyggen, Mayor, City of Lethbridge

"Our focus has always been – and continues to be – on what is best for the health and safety of the people that live here. We fully support the perspective of our Regional Emergency Services and other partners in the region involved in emergency response that we are best served by EMS dispatch being managed at a local level. We are hopeful that in working alongside the Province towards further improvements, that there is opportunity for our Municipality to play a stronger leadership role in EMS dispatch.”

- Sandy Bowman, Mayor, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

“We remain in respectful disagreement with Alberta Health Services regarding the effectiveness of this consolidated system and are requesting a return of EMS Dispatch to our centers in order to support the provincial system with a stable and integrated service. It is clear by many of the recommendations in the report that our conclusions support the fact that the provincial dispatch centers are either overwhelmed or lacking in capacity and searching for solutions to maintain service.”

- Ken Johnston, Mayor, City of Red Deer

Removing local, integrated EMS dispatch has hurt the health and safety of Albertans and impacted patient outcomes in all four regions. The Mayors are inviting all Albertans who may have experienced delays, or a degradation in service since the consolidation, to share their stories. Albertans can do this by informing Alberta Health Services, the Government of Alberta and continue to call on the Premier to step in and return emergency dispatch services to local jurisdictions.

For more information, please contact:

Community & Public Relations
The City of Red Deer

Communications & Engagement
City of Lethbridge

Office of the Mayor
City of Calgary

Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
Media relations:

- end -