Opinion: Centralizing 911 dispatch offers benefits to Red Deer residents

Recently, Alberta Health Services’ emergency medical services announced plans to consolidate EMS dispatch services.

The work done by four municipally run satellite sites, Calgary, Lethbridge, Red Deer and the Municipality of Wood Buffalo, will be consolidated into one of the three AHS EMS dispatch sites in Peace River, Calgary and Edmonton.

EMS staff are currently engaging with each municipality to discuss process, timing and questions regarding the process.

I would like to share some facts about the dispatch consolidation process.

Patient safety is at the core of every decision we make at Alberta Health Services emergency medical services. This includes our approach to dispatching EMS services across Alberta.

Moving to a provincial dispatch system provides several benefits, such as maintaining patient safety and ensuring consistency and sustainability of dispatch services across all communities.

A borderless system complemented by a consolidated dispatch system provides improved medical oversight, greater efficiency and better co-ordination of all resources. It allows EMS to send the nearest, most appropriate resource to a patient, regardless of any geographic boundaries.

Local 911 callers will notice no change when the dispatch process switches to the AHS EMS communications centres.

When people call 911 today, calls are already electronically transferred to a dispatcher across the room to the appropriate agency, such as police, fire department or ambulance.

When the transition is complete, calls will be transferred at the same touch of a button.

Ambulance services in each community will continue to be delivered by the same local paramedics who provide the service today.

These local professionals know the streets, locations and neighbourhoods and will continue working with EMS dispatch to respond to any emergency in every local community.

AHS uses mapping information and data provided by the municipalities; both AHS and municipal dispatchers have precisely the same information at their fingertips.

Fire departments who provide medical first response will continue to provide this response to the same types of 911 calls. This change in dispatch has no impact to medical first response.

The dispatch consolidation also maintains an integrated system – EMS, fire and police have a long tradition of working side by side to respond to emergencies. This continues now and always.

The consolidation of most of Alberta’s EMS dispatch happened nearly a decade ago. AHS already successfully and seamlessly dispatches ambulances for 60 per cent of the population of Alberta, including large centres like Edmonton and Medicine Hat.

EMS calls are answered within 10 seconds, 95 per cent of the time, and no calls to 911 have ever been left waiting.

We look forward to a productive working relationship with each municipality as we work to improve healthcare for all Albertans.

Darren Sandbeck, Edmonton

Darren Sandbeck is senior provincial director and chief paramedic with Alberta Health Services.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, receive flu shot. Photo via Government of Alberta
COVID cases climb in central zone, Red Deer

The total number of active COVID-19 cases in the province reached 3,138… Continue reading

Many rural municipalities were concerned about a proposed reduction to their industrial revenues, but Alberta’s municipal affairs minister has come up with an alternative solution. (Photo contributed)
Energy industry support won’t injure municipalities

Creating new wells or pipelines would result in a three year ‘tax holiday’

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Premier Jason Kenney participated in a livestream on Oct. 17, 2020. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
UCP members pass resolution at AGM calling for privately funded health care option

EDMONTON — Members of Alberta’s governing United Conservative Party have narrowly endorsed… Continue reading

“We weren’t sure what to expect with just doing the 50/50. We have been positively surprised with sales so far,” says Craig Fleming, co-chair of the Red Deer Kinsmen Club’s raffle. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Non-profits put their money on 50/50 draws

COVID impacts fundraising events

Student taking a math test. (Pixabay photo)
David Marsden: Students need more testing, not less

Testing has been central to Alberta’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s… Continue reading

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States are being extended until at least Nov. 21. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U. S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U. S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

COVID-19 cases in Canada surpass 200,000

COVID-19 cases in Canada surpass 200,000

The Bank of Canada building is seen in Ottawa, Wednesday, April 15, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Companies have modest hiring plans, low wage growth expectations, Bank of Canada says

Companies have modest hiring plans, low wage growth expectations, Bank of Canada says

The TMX Group logo is shown in Toronto on Friday June 28, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim
North American stock markets fall on uncertainty over U.S. stimulus before election

North American stock markets fall on uncertainty over U.S. stimulus before election

Nickey Miller, left, and Josie Rudderham, co-owners of Cake and Loaf in Hamilton, Ont., pose outside of their Dundurn Street South storefront location, Monday, October 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tara Walton
For small businesses that survive COVID, recovery is expected to be difficult

For small businesses that survive COVID, recovery is expected to be difficult

The Bank of Canada building is seen in Ottawa, Wednesday, April 15, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Companies have modest hiring plans, low wage growth expectations, Bank of Canada says

Companies have modest hiring plans, low wage growth expectations, Bank of Canada says

Pumpjacks draw oil out of the ground in a canola field near Olds, Alta., Thursday, July 16, 2020. Higher oil prices are expected to bolster returns as Canadian energy companies report third-quarter results over the next few weeks but observers say a recent stall in the price recovery and ongoing oil market uncertainty make unlikely any increases in production and spending plans. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Oil price stall, global uncertainty prompt caution as oil firms roll out Q3 reports

Oil price stall, global uncertainty prompt caution as oil firms roll out Q3 reports

Most Read