Shandro to proceed with ambulance dispatch consolidation despite council’s opposition

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Those mayors have maintained that changing the system would increase wait times for emergency help without achieving worthwhile savings.

Since 2009, AHS has dispatched EMS centrally from Edmonton, Calgary and Peace River across the rest of the province. AHS has tried several times over the last decade to consolidate the remaining municipally-run EMS dispatches, but health ministers across several governments have rejected it.

AHS announced the move in early August, saying it would mean better co-ordinated emergency response. The change also comes after an external review of AHS recommended it as a way to save an estimated $6 million per year.

According to city data, Calgary 911 deals with 15,000 calls per year that require EMS, police and fire crews at the scene.

Calgary Community Standards director Richard Hinse told council last month that the city’s model has been the “gold standard” for the past 15 years.

“It’s not broken,” he said. “Why would you fix it?”

In his letter, Shandro wrote that despite the decisions of past former ministers, he “must judge by the evidence today, not in the past.”

“The plain fact is that dispatch and overall response times are similar across the province – and within AHS’ targets – in the four cities that dispatch ambulances and in those that are dispatched by AHS,” Shandro told Nenshi, along with mayors Chris Spearman of Lethbridge, Tara Veer of Red Deer and Don Scott of Wood Buffalo.

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