Associated Ambulance & Services Ltd. has expanded into Rocky Mountain House, Sylvan Lake and Ma-Me-O Beach.
After requests for proposals, Alberta Health Services awarded Associated Ambulance a five-year contract that started on April 1.
Associated now operates in seven more communities, 20 in total, including Rimbey since last August. Associated already serves Drayton Valley and Breton, north of Rimbey.
Lyle McKellar, executive director of EMS operations Alberta Health Services Central Zone, said Associated bid to provide service in a pocket of the zone and was successful in its bid.
He said Central Zone has both ambulance service provided directly by AHS and contracts with for-profit companies and municipalities.
Governance for ambulance service was a municipal responsibility until April 2009, when AHS took it over.
AHS’s dispatch plan includes ambulances helping out nearby communities.
“For example, if Red Deer has depleted resources because of call volume, what may happen in the communication dispatch plan is it may cause us to flex or redeploy ambulances,” McKellar said.
Terry Schueler CEO of Associated Ambulance & Services said his company is very familiar with moving resources from one community to another and supports the practice.
“I think it’s a better way of doing business. I think it’s a better way of using resources,” Schueler said.
He said Associated started in the Mayerthorpe area about 33 years ago and has provided service to more than one community in an area long before AHS was created, and Sylvan Lake and Rocky Mountain House will benefit.
“Now they are part of one big system that allows the exchange of resources back and forth, the movement of trucks back and forth amongst the various different communities, the movement personnel back and forth,” Schueler said.
He said within each of the three areas in the province that Associated serves, extra emergency medical technicians and operational managers can float to where they are needed.
He said staff from Specialty Medical Services Ltd. in Rocky and Lakeside Emergency Medical Services Ltd. in Sylvan Lake were offered jobs and the majority joined Associated.
All Associated contracts in Central Alberta run to 2017.
Elsewhere in Central Alberta, AHS announced last week it will assume delivery of ambulance service for Lacombe and Eckville by Oct. 1.
Lacombe Municipal Ambulance Service Association, which currently provides the service, voted to discontinue contract negotiations with AHS and stop providing ground ambulance service.
Contract negotiations are underway between AHS and Red Deer Emergency Services, whose contract ends in March 2013.
The contract Guardian Ambulance Ltd. has with AHS to cover Innisfail, and Stettler and District EMS’s contract, both expire next March.
AHS directly serves Bashaw, Olds and Sundre.