Alberta Health Services says EMS 911 dispatch will be consolidated across the province.
Calls handled by four municipally run dispatch sites in Red Deer, Calgary, Lethbridge and the Municipality of Wood Buffalo will be transitioned to one of three existing AHS EMS dispatch centres.
To ensure resources are in place to meet increased call volume to the EMS communications centres, AHS will hire 25 new emergency communications officers.
Current municipal employees will be encouraged to apply for these roles.
This transition affects EMS 911 dispatch services only. All local municipal fire, police and medical first response calls will continue to be dispatched by the local municipalities.
The provincewide EMS dispatch system will improve patient care through more efficient co-ordination of all EMS resources, which allows EMS to send the nearest available ambulance to a patient regardless of geographic boundaries, says AHS.
EMS 911 dispatch also has the ability to involve real-time physician consultation on emergency calls to ensure patients get the highest quality care when they need it.
“The consolidation is the right decision for any Albertan needing emergency medical care,” said Dr. Verna Yiu, AHS president and CEO.
“This will improve care and ensure we are being fiscally responsible.”
“By bringing all EMS services together, we are better able to maintain consistency and ensure sustainability of EMS dispatch services across all communities,” said Darren Sandbeck, chief paramedic and senior provincial director with AHS EMS.
Consolidation of the four municipal satellite dispatch centres will eliminate duplication and save more than $6 million annually, says AHS, which adds the change is not primarily a financial decision.
The transition will take approximately six months. When the transition is complete, EMS calls will be handled by communications centres in Peace River, Edmonton and Calgary.