City says EMS, police dispatch confusion calls for pause on consolidation

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If a 911 caller asked for an ambulance and got transferred to the AHS call centre, but then over the course of the call it became clear that police were also needed, Hinse said he’s not sure how that process would work.

“If we’ve learned one thing, we need consistent ways of doing business in emergencies,” he said. “I don’t know what would happen there. That would be the concern.”

In a statement Monday, an AHS spokesperson said that if police are needed, EMS dispatchers notify them “directly and immediately.” A “Law Enforcement Response Plan” will determine which calls necessitate automatic police notification.

Putting fire and ambulance dispatchers in two different buildings has also been a sore spot for city officials, who say it will slow the process of sending firefighters to the most urgent types of medical calls. AHS chief paramedic Darren Sandbeck said firefighters will continue to arrive first on the scene of medical emergencies just as frequently after consolidation.

But Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the latest confusion around the dispatch process is “extremely troubling.”

He said in his opinion, AHS isn’t taking the city’s concerns seriously enough.

“The Calgary system is what everyone else should aspire to. And instead, what we’re getting is everyone pulled back to the lowest common denominator.”

AHS officials, including Sandbeck, told city council last year that 911 callers in Calgary won’t notice a difference in the service they get after the EMS dispatch consolidation.

Twitter: @meksmith

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