A new ambulance provider hit the streets of Rimbey this week.
Associated Ambulance and Service took over operations from the town-owned Rimbey Ambulance Services within the town of around 2,500 residents. In May, town council accepted Associated’s offer to buy the building, emergency equipment and the ambulances for nearly $449,000, as well as take over the ambulance lease.
The provincial government then approved moving the town’s lease agreement to Associated Ambulance — subject to certain conditions being met.
Paul Kennedy, director of operations for Associated Ambulance and Service, said Rimbey residents won’t notice a change in service.
“Everything stays exactly the same,” he said.
The ambulances will have different markings, but that’s it.
It still runs basic life support (BLS) service. Two ambulances are on hand.
The service will have the same level of staff — eight full-time emergency medical technicians (EMTs) as well as some casual employees.
Rimbey is the 13th community in Alberta to receives service from Associated Ambulance. Other communities include Whitecourt and Drayton Valley.
Associated Ambulance and Service will take over the existing contract or Alberta Health Services will renew the contract.
“The extension we’re currently working under is March 31, 2012,” said Kennedy.
Rimbey is the first community in Alberta to assign an ambulance lease to another provider. Other communities that have terminated their ambulance agreements have turned the service back to the province.
Town CAO Tony Goode said the town decided it could no longer run the ambulance service.
“We were just finding that the fees we were getting to operate didn’t match our expenses,” Goode said. “We’re a small town and we just didn’t have the resources to continue on.”
Initially, the town contacted Alberta Health Services but it would only offer $1 for the ambulance service assets, Goode said.
“We didn’t think that was fair so we went out and had three offers to purchase the equipment and take over the lease,” he added.