Ambulance dispatch for Red Deer and many other central Alberta communities was moved on Tuesday to a centralized dispatch system out of Calgary. (File photo by Advocate staff).

Ambulance dispatch for Red Deer and many other central Alberta communities was moved on Tuesday to a centralized dispatch system out of Calgary. (File photo by Advocate staff).

Red Deer loses local ambulance dispatch

911 health calls to be handled by Calgary dispatchers

The switch has been flipped and 911 ambulance calls from Red Deer and the rest of central Alberta are now being handled by Calgary dispatchers.

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro disputes the concerns that have repeatedly been expressed by four Alberta mayors, including Red Deer’s Tara Veer, that consolidating ambulance dispatch to fewer centres, and separating this service from local fire dispatchers, will hurt response times and cause unnecessary deaths.

Steve Buick, a spokesperson for Alberta Health, said Minister Shandro met with the four mayors in September and followed up their concerns with an Oct. 16 open letter that provided rationale for the transition.

Shandro states that 60 per cent of the province has been using the AHS ambulance dispatch system since 2009.

The position of the mayors of Red Deer, Calgary, Lethbridge and the Municipal District of Wood Buffalo is that their fire-medics are cross-trained to handle any kind of emergency, so having close contact between fire and ambulance dispatchers makes the most sense.

But Shandro disputed that separating the two kinds of dispatching would slow response times.


– Last-minute appeal by mayors

– City council offer to pay to keep local ambulance dispatch

The minister wrote in his letter that integrating ambulance dispatch into the health care system makes the most sense as it is a system used in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and most other Canadian provinces.

“It is the best practice and the standard practice in Alberta and most other provinces and in other countries whose health systems are most like ours,” wrote Shandro.

Buick added, “We respect the mayors’ concerns,” but Alberta Health continues to believe that integrating dispatch into the health system in the remaining four municipalities “will serve patients better.”

Buick said it will align the four cities with best practices in the rest of the province.

Kerry Williamson, executive director of issues management at Alberta Health, said on Tuesday that every dollar saved on the current dispatch contracts will be reinvested into improving ground ambulance services.

“Paramedic and public safety are at the forefront of the work we do every day. If police are needed on an EMS call, AHS EMS Emergency Communications Officers notify police directly and immediately.”

A paramedic or 911 caller can request police assistance at any time during an event, Williamson added. “Additionally, AHS …has a Law Enforcement Response Plan that determines what call types require automatic notification of law enforcement.”

Send your news tips

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

red deer city

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

Just Posted

RCMP have charged a Sylvan Lake man for allegedly defrauding five people of more than $100,000.
Advocate file photo
20-year-old woman killed in collision: Blackfalds RCMP

A 20-year-old woman was killed in a collision on Saturday, says Blackfalds… Continue reading

Patrick Malkin, co-owner of The Granary Kitchen, says he wants the provincial government to lift COVID-19 restrictions that shutdown in-person dining. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer restaurant owner ‘frustrated’ in-person dining restrictions are still in place

Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced the restrictions won’t yet be eased this past Thursday

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta identifies 573 new COVID-19 cases, 13 deaths on Saturday

There are currently 9,727 active cases of the virus in the province

A firetruck sits in front of a home on Harvey Close in Red Deer Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Firefighters respond to Red Deer fire

Red Deer firefighters responded to a blaze in the north part of… Continue reading

(Courtesy photo)
Red Deer rental prices drop slightly

Renting an apartment in Red Deer became slightly cheaper last month.… Continue reading

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

OTTAWA — Under fluorescent lights, Wendy Muckle surveys the supervised consumption site… Continue reading

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) headquarters Connaught Building is pictured in Ottawa on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. nbsp; THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Taxpayers’ watchdog sees complaints spike, raising worries about pandemic tax season

OTTAWA — Canada’s taxpayers’ ombudsperson says his office has seen a steep… Continue reading

Wet'suwet'en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

Tensions had reached a boiling point over a natural gas pipeline in… Continue reading

An Uber driver's vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

VANCOUVER — Several Metro Vancouver taxi companies have lost a court bid… Continue reading

Lights on an internet switch illuminate a network cable in an office in Ottawa, Thursday, February 10, 2011. A Federal Court is ordering Canada's internet service providers to block websites for a company that's offering pirated television streaming online. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Deeply disturbing:’ Nunavut internet still slower, more costly than rest of country

IQALUIT, Nunavut — In Nunavut, it’s not unusual for the internet to… Continue reading

RCMP say missing teen Hope Tivendale has been found. (File photo by Advocate staff)
No foul play suspected after burned body of homeless person found in North Vancouver

VANCOUVER — A burned body, believed to be of a homeless person,… Continue reading

The central zone experienced a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases Thursday, rising from 454 to 508 active cases over the past 24 hours, with 10 people in hospital. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Spartan Bioscience says Health Canada has approved its rapid COVID-19 test

TORONTO — An Ottawa company says it’s received approval from Health Canada… Continue reading

Most Read