“They didn’t say they were going to change the AHS decision but that’s exactly what we fought for. I like to believe people are going to make the right decision, we gave every reason to show them this is the right decision.”
Mayor Don Scott and Regional Fire Chief Jody Butz defended the municipality’s position against consolidation of EMS Dispatch services when they met with Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health, and Tracy Allard, Minister of Municipal Affairs Thursday, at the Alberta Legislature.
They were joined in the cause by other Mayors and Fire Chiefs from Calgary, Red Deer, and Lethbridge.
Wood Buffalo’s site is one of four across the province, joining Calgary, Lethbridge, and Red Deer, who’s being centralized into one of three provincial centres.
Mayor Scott said it was imperative to explain the dangerous impacts that consolidation of dispatch services would have on our regions, and the rest of Alberta.
“It would not just impact the 9-1-1 call processing during an emergency -- it would cripple our ability to send an extra ambulance when our four ambulances are already busy,” said Mayor Scott. “Under the consolidated model, Alberta Health Services would not recognize our integrated service model. AHS would send an ambulance from an outside region – such as Lac La Biche or Boyle, rather than dispatching one from our Fort McMurray Fire Halls, where cross-trained fire fighters and Paramedics are ready to respond.”
During Thursday’s meeting, Mayor Scott explained many critical reasons why dispatch services should stay in Wood Buffalo, including:
- Wood Buffalo is larger in size than Nova Scotia – home to nine rural communities + Fort McMurray. We do not have the luxury of pulling resources from other regions to support our emergency response like communities in metro areas can.
- RMWB is part of a mutual-aid partnership with Syncrude, Suncor, CNRL, and Husky for Emergency Medical Services.
- Dispatch consolidation will mean that an ambulance at a mutual-aid partner site will no longer be able to respond to a medical emergency on the highway, at a nearby site, or in a rural community.
Mayor Scott said he hasn't ruled out the possibility of legal action against the province.
“We’ll look at every step possible, we just want the best result for the people of our region and the AHS proposal is ridiculous, it’s absolutely not the best result.”
The Alberta Government said the move would save around $6 million annually with AHS claiming nothing will change for those who need to call 9-1-1.