Centralized EMS dispatch will cost lives
Tell the Government of Alberta why seconds matter in Wood Buffalo
On August 4, 2020, Alberta Health Services surprised us with a decision to end local dispatch of Emergency Medical Services in the RMWB, as well as in the cities of Lethbridge, Red Deer, and Calgary. This will eventually see all emergency medical calls rerouted to provincial communication centres in Edmonton, Calgary, or Peace River. This is a huge concern and is something we all need to be vocal about. This AHS decision will add layers of complexity and make this critical process take longer. This decision will cost lives.
How can you help?
It will not be easy, but there is hope. We have a short window of opportunity to change this decision. In the past, we fought this, and we won. Council and administration are reaching out to our friends and partners; we are joining a larger lobbying effort with other affected municipalities; we are sending letters to our local provincial representatives; the minister of Health, and more. But most of all we need residents to express their concerns – tell your MLA how you feel about this decision. Go higher; send an email to the Minister of Health. We have drafted a letter outlining the major issues and impacts to our region -- please take a moment to fill out your contact information, and send them this important letter. It only takes one minute.
The email sent will be as follows:
YOUR POSTAL CODE
September ##, 2020
Honourable Tyler Shandro
Minister of Health
423 Legislature Building
Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6
As a resident of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB), I am writing to voice my opposition to Alberta Health Services’ announced changes to Emergency Medical Services (EMS) dispatch in my region.
I am deeply concerned that centralizing EMS dispatch outside of my region will put lives at risk by reducing emergency medical service delivery, response times and patient-outcomes. A closer look at the issue demonstrates that this change—and the minimal cost-savings it may achieve—are not in the public interest for a number of reasons.
The data do not support this change
The data are clear: the current system out-performs the Alberta Health Services (AHS) system—providing crucial speed in situations where literally every second counts.
- 90% of the time, RMWB dispatches an ambulance 48 seconds faster than AHS.
- RMWB verifies addresses almost 30 seconds faster than AHS.
- We can dispatch units in less than half the time it takes AHS.
- Our dispatchers answer an average of 2400 9-1-1 calls a month—and received 12,000 for the first six months of 2020.
- In a vast, remote region, we do not have the luxury of pulling resources from other regions to support our emergency response like communities in metro areas can.
- As home to six First Nations and six Métis communities, addresses are not always standard or possible in our rural communities. Local knowledge and familiarity with landmarks and hard-to-find places are vital for the safety of people in our rural communities.
- The region has a higher than average ratio of calls coming into the dispatch centre via wireless device—approximately 80 per cent of calls are received in this way—which means that the addressing abilities of the call-taker and knowledge of the geographic location and landmarks in our region are critical to timely dispatch.
- With our current integrated Fire/EMS service and dispatch centre, Regional Emergency Services is able to provide a higher level of service to the region through seamless coordination of resources and adding resources to the region as the situation demands.
- Historically, Alberta Health Services has relied on the availability of support from EMS-trained fire support services and mutual-aid partners at local industrial sites whenever the four ambulance resources are not adequate.
This is an issue that directly impacts everyone who lives, works, or plays in my region and it strikes at the heart of my community. I stand with residents across the RMWB, as well as in Calgary, Red Deer and Lethbridge, in demanding that your government change course on this decision. I urge you to keep the current operational model in our communities to ensure that we continue to receive an acceptable standard of emergency medical care.
YOUR TELEPHONE NUMBER (OPTIONAL)
YOUR EMAIL (OPTIONAL )