By Jensen, Randy on August 13, 2020.
City council unanimously passed a motion affirming the importance of maintaining integrated Fire and EMS dispatch in Lethbridge, and to invite support from citizens and other communities to assist in this effort.
The motion, passed during Monday’s city council meeting, follows on the heels of a contentious decision made last week by Alberta Health Services to give 180 days notice to end local EMS dispatch in four communities – Lethbridge, Calgary, Wood Buffalo and Red Deer – and to consolidate these services in existing AHS call centres.
By affirming the importance of having the City of Lethbridge run these dispatch services locally, and by getting citizens directly involved in a campaign to lobby the Alberta government to overturn the AHS decision, Mayor Chris Spearman, who sponsored the motion, hoped to put pressure on local provincial elected representatives, AHS and Alberta Health to make all aware of the vital importance of maintaining local EMS dispatch to help save lives when seconds matter.
“Ambulance dispatch in the City of Lethbridge has been a source of pride,” stated Spearman. “We have provided a great service. We have had the integrated service. As many people know now, our Fire apparatus and Fire staff attend to 29 per cent of our medical emergencies; that’s 4,700 times in 2019 out of close to 15,000 medical emergencies. It’s important to have the best service possible. We won’t willingly give it up.”
Spearman said it was important local citizens speak up forcefully about this issue.
“We will be looking for allies,” he said. “It’s going to be important that people who have had the experience in Lethbridge, their lives were saved by timely response, if those people could tell their stories, if they could write to their MLA and copy city council – we know those stories are very personal, it’s about their medical history or those of their relatives, but we think saving lives is important.”
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