February 21, 2024

The transfer ends a battle between the RMWB and the Alberta authorities after native EMS dispatchers have been changed with a centralized mannequin.

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The Alberta authorities is returning EMS dispatch to the Fort McMurray Wooden Buffalo area by the tip of 2024. This ends a dispute that started when the province introduced in 2020 that EMS dispatch could be run from centralized hubs in Edmonton, Calgary and Peace River.

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A Tuesday assertion from the province mentioned the Regional Municipality of Wooden Buffalo (RMWB) will workers and run the dispatch centre. The centre may ease strain on the three dispatch hubs for surge assist. Dispatchers will use know-how from Alberta Well being Providers (AHS) to deploy ambulances. This system will value an estimated $2 million to launch.

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“On the finish of the day, info prevailed,” mentioned Mayor Sandy Bowman in an interview. “I’ve been assembly with each well being minister and advocating for this. We are able to do that. We’re an remoted, northern neighborhood that’s larger than the province of Nova Scotia. Our wants are distinctive.

Bowman thanked Alberta Well being Minister Adriana LaGrange, Premier Danielle Smith, Fort McMurray’s UCP MLAs and the advocacy of former mayor Don Scott, present and former councillors and Indigenous communities. Bowman additionally praised Fireplace Chief Jody Butz and native emergency staff for his or her battle.

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“This new dispatch centre paves the best way for the supply of a regionally coordinated emergency response tailor-made to the distinctive wants of the communities we proudly serve whereas additionally supporting different communities throughout Alberta,” mentioned Butz in a press release.

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An ambulance parked outdoors the Willow Sq. Persevering with Care Centre in Fort McMurray on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. Robert Murray/Particular to Fort McMurray At this time/Postmedia Community jpg, FM

Centralized dispatch mannequin opposed regionally since 2020

The centralized dispatch mannequin was launched in 2009 by the previous PC authorities, and expanded below the NDP and UCP. 

Fort McMurray Wooden Buffalo moved to the centralized dispatch system initially of 2021 after it was introduced in the summertime of 2020. Emergency leaders within the area argued the brand new system prompted delayed responses and despatched paramedics to mistaken addresses, significantly in rural areas.

The mayors of the RMWB, Purple Deer, Lethbridge and Calgary and native Indigenous leaders opposed the central mannequin. The province didn’t touch upon whether or not native dispatch will return to different communities which have opposed the central mannequin.

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The RMWB and the province have been preventing the problem in courtroom after council unanimously voted to cease sending 911 EMS calls to the centralized dispatch system in Feb. 2021. Native dispatchers took over till the Alberta Court docket of Queen’s Bench issued a brief injunction towards the RMWB a number of days later.

Former premier Jason Kenney and former well being ministers Tyler Shandro and Jason Copping insisted the centralized system was cheaper and extra dependable than native fashions. Butz argued any financial savings have been marginal.

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Wooden Buffalo Mayor Don Scott speaks to the media following a gathering with Minister of Well being Tyler Shandro about Alberta Well being Providers’ plans to consolidate EMS Dispatch, in Edmonton Thursday Sept. 24, 2020. The assembly was additionally attended by the mayors of Calgary, Lethbridge, and Purple Deer. Picture by David Bloom jpg, SP

The announcement was a part of a collection of bulletins on addressing EMS issues throughout Alberta. This features a new advisory committee and a efficiency framework. The province defended the centralized system of their assertion.

They acknowledged a January report for the Alberta authorities that concluded delays in response instances weren’t attributable to the centralized system. However, the report discovered issues in verifying addresses and areas of emergency calls in rural and distant communities. The report additionally urged the province to work intently with municipalities.

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