October 23rd, 2020

City council unanimously passes motion urging continuation of dispatch service


By Jensen, Randy on September 24, 2020.

An ambulance makes its way through downtown. Herald file photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald

tkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com

In the lead-up to a crucial meeting with Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro today to discuss the future of EMS dispatch in the city, Lethbridge City Council unanimously passed a motion urging Alberta Health Services and the provincial government to continue local dispatch service.

AHS announced earlier this summer it would be ending its contracts for local EMS dispatch service in four communities, Lethbridge, Red Deer, Calgary and Wood Buffalo. AHS has attempted to do this four times since 2009, and has had its decision overturned each time by the then Minister of Health for the province from different parties. City councillors said during Monday’s meeting they hoped Shandro will keep this in mind as he, too, is called upon to make a decision on these matters.

The motion, introduced by Coun. Rob Miyashiro, points out that Lethbridge has had an integrated EMS and fire service for 110 years, and that by having fire apparatus respond to medical emergencies 19 per cent of the time in the city due to integrated dispatch saves lives by decreasing local response times.

Mayor Chris Spearman said it was good knowing all councillors, and indeed all citizens of Lethbridge, are completely united in their support for local integrated dispatch heading into today’s crucial meeting.

“It was an affirmation motion saying we have looked at all the information, and we still think retaining EMS dispatch in the City of Lethbridge is the best for patients here not only in the city, but in the region,” said Spearman. “We will be speaking to the Minister of Health, and we will be making our case. We want to collaborate with Alberta Health Services. We want to make sure we get the best outcomes. We want to make sure the Minister fully understands the cost savings (proposed by AHS) really aren’t there when it comes to looking at the partners. And we hope this minister will listen because four previous Health Ministers looked at all of this already, and said ‘No.'”

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