Alberta’s top paramedic says inaccurate claims about system failures due to the recent consolidation of EMS dispatch were made by Red Deer and three other municipalities.
“There is no evidence to suggest that the consolidation of EMS dispatch has led to any delays or inappropriate responses, in any of the communities where consolidation occurred,” said Darren Sandbeck, senior provincial director and chief paramedic with Alberta Health Services, in a statement.
“AHS EMS has successfully been dispatching ambulances for more than 60 per cent of the province for the last decade. We have seen nothing over the past few weeks since we took over all EMS dispatch in the province to suggest that has changed.”
During a press conference on Monday, the mayors of Red Deer, Calgary, Lethbridge and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo demanded an immediate inquiry into an hour-long technical outage that impacted ambulance dispatch on Jan. 26, as well as a third-party external review of dispatch consolidation after multiple errors and delays.
As of Jan. 12, ambulance dispatch services for the four municipalities were consolidated at three AHS communications centres in Peace River, Edmonton and Calgary.
Sandbeck said several inaccurate and confusing claims were made in the media, and on social media, that attempt to draw parallels between dispatch consolidation and perceived delays, including ones about two incidents that took place in northern Alberta in recent days.
He said there have been questions about why a local fire department was not alerted involving a snowmobiler. That initial 911 call was for “unknown trouble” and the information presented at the time would not have triggered an automatic fire department response.
Another incident involved a fallen tree in a very remote, rural location. The 911 call was dispatched in seconds and the crew arrived at that location well within acceptable required timeframes for such a remote area.
“Since consolidation happened, all calls for an ambulance across the province have been responded to in exactly the same way as they would have before consolidation. To suggest otherwise is inaccurate and disingenuous,” Sandbeck said.
“We would respectfully request that if any municipality has legitimate concerns with public safety, that these issues be brought to EMS leadership, instead of bypassing those channels and going directly to the media.”