Since July 2020, The City of Red Deer along with the cities of Lethbridge, Calgary and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo have been strongly advocating against the decision by Alberta Health Services and the Government of Alberta to consolidate regional ambulance dispatch services. Despite these efforts, on January 12, 2021, ambulance dispatch was officially consolidated across Alberta.
Since the consolidation, regions across Alberta have experienced significant issues, in varying degrees with the service, which has significantly increased the risk to patients' care across our province. Now, these four regions jointly filed a complaint against the decision and the system with the Alberta Ombudsman.
"Our communities have tried every avenue to communicate with the Government that this system is flawed and to strongly dispute the effectiveness of it, but our calls for a third party review remain unanswered," said Mayor Veer, City of Red Deer. "We will not be giving up the fight for what we know is in the best interest of patient safety. We hope that filing this official complaint with the Alberta Ombudsman reiterates that we will exhaust every avenue possible to revisit the Government's decision, and ultimately we hope the Ombudsman will review the decision of AHS."
"It has been over a year since the decision was made to consolidate ambulance dispatch and myself, along with my fellow Mayors of Red Deer, Calgary and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo are still sounding the alarm." said Mayor Spearman, City of Lethbridge. "This is an alarm that our Provincial Government and AHS are still not listening to. Our decision to file a complaint with the Alberta Ombudsman is the step I hope will finally amplify our serious concerns and make patient safety a priority for our communities."
"It is unacceptable that we continue to risk people's lives," said Mayor Naheed Nenshi, City of Calgary. "We've seen the data and listened to those on the frontline and we know that this dispatch system cannot meet the needs of patients in our cities. We hope that the Alberta Ombudsman will consider the severity of the situation and convince our provincial government to make the right decision."
"Since the province forced a consolidated dispatch system on our communities, we have witnessed the deterioration of ambulance dispatch," said Mayor Don Scott, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. "Our commitment to patient safety, and positive patient outcomes remains top priority. Filing a complaint with the Alberta Ombudsman is an important step in continuing our fight toward reversing this decision."
Removing local, integrated EMS dispatch has hurt the health and safety of Albertans and impact patient outcomes in all four regions. The Mayors are inviting all Albertans who may have experienced delays, or a degradation in service since the consolidation to share their stories with the Government of Alberta, and continue to call on the Premier to step in and return emergency dispatch services to local jurisdictions, in the interest of all Albertans.
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