Councillor Survey Question 9

The City has an ongoing feud with the provincial government over the centralization of EMS dispatch? Do you believe the City is right to object and how would you propose to resolve this issue?

Janise Somer:

We have seen that the centralized system is not working well for Red Deerians and yes, we need to keep advocating to return it to Red Deer.


Brenda Campbell:

I totally believe the City is right to object and like health and safety, I would lobby the provincial government to fix this. The minimal cost measures that are supposedly occuring as the result of centralization is not worth the lives lost and other serious glitches happening.


Bruce Buruma:

I support the City’s actions on this. Local knowledge, coordination of response and ensuring fast service when time is of the essence is key when responding to emergencies. We have been well served by local dispatch


Kraymer Barnstable:

I have no issues with the city objecting the provincial government's stance on this matter, but I also do not have a proposed resolution. Once again I am open to hearing others' ideas and working together to help address this issue.


Victor Doerksen:

The city has a right and responsibility to object to any matter which affects its citizens. Whether the City has any leverage to change the current situation is not known to me at this point.


Dianne Wyntjes:

The question of centralizing EMS dispatch through Alberta Health Services has been raised many times in the last decade. Each time that occurred, Alberta municipalities were heard by the Provincial Government on the reasons why it was not a good move for our/other Alberta municipalities and Albertans who reside in those region. Back then, the Province did not move to centralization of EMS dispatch. Sadly, this Provincial government did not acknowledge the concerns raised by the municipalities and pushed ahead. The City of Red Deer and City administration continues to work with the municipalities of Lethbridge, Calgary and Wood Buffalo Region who also lost regional dispatch, along with other area municipalities who have also been affected by this Provincial decision. There is also connection with other regions from each of these municipalities regarding details about the challenges EMS are now experiencing with the dispatch change. Such as lack of details for calls and directions for the emergency calls, along with encouraging Red Deerians and Albertans to share their experiences, from what can be a difficult and traumatic time. In September of this year, the current Red Deer City Council filed a complaint with the Alberta Ombudsman, Marianne Ryan, about the Province’s decision to consolidate dispatch and our request to revisit this decision. These past few weeks, Alberta now has a new Health Minister, so the conversation is worthy to revisit. Governments make decisions of centralizing and decentralizing services; this is one decision that I hope the Province reconsiders and brings back dispatch to the Alberta municipalities. The words “seconds count” continue to resonate when we think about the emergency response for the health and safety and care provided when the ambulance arrives - for Red Deerians and Albertans.


Chad Krahn:

One of my core principles is that the best decisions are made at the lowest level of analysis possible. Ambulance dispatch is a great example of that. It is a superior service to have local ambulance dispatch. The Provincial government did what they have done with a number of files in Health and just did what they wanted anyway. The City clearly got Shandroed. I believe the Mayor and Council pulled out all the stops to make the Province stop, but they did not. Currently, there is a complaint before the ombudsman, which is essentially the last line of recourse for the decision.


Ryan Laloge:

The movement of dispatch services is a security risk that will sooner or later face a technology or financial challenge. The basic problem is the priorities of the system and Red Deer Council is not going to on its own resolve the issue. The province and the City need to resolve the basic issue of priorities first.


Vesna Higham:

Wow. I could talk about this issue for ten more pages. YES, the City is categorically right in objecting to the consolidation of EMS dispatch services in our province – which took the physical number of dispatch centres from 7 down to 3 (Calgary, Edmonton, and Grande Prairie) and precipitated a net loss of dispatchers of approximately 60 operators. That’s a massive hit to our overall provincial and local emergency dispatch capacity, and it shows in the number of addressing errors and response time deficiencies we’ve witnessed not just in our community, but across the province. It’s simply THE WRONG THING TO DO and we have to continue lobbying the Province on this issue. With a new health minister in place, we have at least some hope of prevailing upon his good judgment with the cold hard facts – which are indisputable from my perspective. The former health minister was simply ideologically bound and committed to consolidation and was unwilling to move from that ingrained position. We could easily and readily return to integrated dispatch services locally (and in the other 3 communities where it was removed: Calgary, Wood Buffalo [Fort McMurray] and Lethbridge) – since we still operate fire dispatch locally from all these communities, including Red Deer. We must keep up the fight for this critical reversal of perhaps the most ill-advised political move I’ve ever witnessed in my seven years on Council.


Cindy Jefferies:

I agree 100% with the City's stand on EMS dispatch. When this was first proposed the numbers didn't make any sense. We would be paying more for less. This move resulted in Red Deer having to hire an increased number of staff. The quality of service has declined, as predicted. We need to stand up for Red Deer. Advocady work on this file is important. Our MLAs have an important role to play in working with the Mayor and Council to represent what is best for our communtiy.

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