Consolidating EMS 911 dispatch services will save money, improve patient care: AHS

EDMONTON — Alberta is consolidating all remaining municipally run emergency medical service dispatch call sites in a move that it says will save money and improve patient care.

The change will affect EMS 911 dispatch services in Calgary, Lethbridge, Red Deer and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

Alberta Health Services has been running a dispatch system for the rest of the province since 2009.

It says the consolidation will allow the EMS system to send the nearest available ambulance to a patient regardless of geographic boundaries.

The government also says it will save more than $6 million per year.

Officials say the change that will take place over the next six months will not affect the local dispatch of municipal fire, police and medical first response services.

"The provincial EMS dispatch system allows for better co-ordination of all EMS resources, including ground ambulances, and air resources, and reliable response times," Health Minister Tyler Shandro said in a release Tuesday.

Dr. Verna Yiu, AHS president and CEO, says consolidation is the right decision for any Albertan needing emergency medical care.

When the transition is complete, EMS calls will be handled by AHS EMS provincial communications centres in Peace River, Edmonton and Calgary.

She says callers to 911 will not notice any change.

Alberta Health Services says it plans to hire 25 new emergency communications officers and current municipal employees will be encouraged to apply.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 4, 2020

The Canadian Press