Ambulance, fire dispatch options studied

Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne says the province is looking at options that may keep integrated ambulance and fire dispatch service in Red Deer.

Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne says the province is looking at options that may keep integrated ambulance and fire dispatch service in Red Deer.

Horne said the province is trying to meet its objectives to ensure the closest ambulance responds to a given situation, and also to look at ways to preserve dispatch systems that are working well.

The province plans to consolidate ambulance dispatch services to three locations in Alberta.

He said the province is committed to a consolidated approach to dispatch because will provide better quality and safety for patients and makes the best use of resources.

Under Red Deer’s integrated system, both fire and ambulance are sent out to emergency situations.

“One of the most common comments I hear from people in Red Deer is that ‘We have something that works well that covers ground ambulance and fire and it is integrated,’ ” said Horne. “People here I understand want to keep the best of what they have locally. So we’re working to see if there is a solution that we can preserve both.”

Horne said he understands the city has invested a lot of money and resources into a system they believe is working well for citizens in Red Deer.

“I am trying to see if there is some middle ground and we can do both,” said Horne.

Red Deer is one of several mid-sized cities in the province that have asked the health minister to revisit the decision.

The municipalities have cited concerns of losing local knowledge and potentially creating slower response times.

The minister formed a working group of municipal leaders to address concerns following a meeting with Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association conference in November.

Horne said discussions are still underway.

He was in Red Deer on Thursday for a Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre expansion announcement.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

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