Commission pushing to address 911 issue
Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012 11:58 am
As a result of centralizing ambulance dispatch and challenges which have emerged in service to our residents, many folks are putting in a lot of effort to work towards solutions, to manage costs, better support our 911 dispatch centres and effect better coordinated responses. On behalf of our Foothills Regional Emergency Services Commission, we are working to find solutions to these complex matters.
Since moving the ambulances to AHS in 2010 and the EMS dispatch to Calgary in 2009, we have experienced fragmentation of emergency services. In 2012, we continue to put forward a list of ongoing concerns: long response times, dispatch issues, technical issues, increased costs for municipalities, business challenges for the commission and ambulances tied up with inter-facility transfers, serving other communities or waiting in hospitals. Sometimes the area is left without an ambulance to respond in a timely manner, or without coverage at all.
We believe the problems could be solved by a dispatch that understands the rural locations and addressing. We have suggested revising the EMS dispatch consolidation plan to include a Rural EMS dispatch centre, or to consider allowing our Regional 911 to complete the call taking process; that is, giving us back the EMS dispatch. In the meantime, Foothills 911 will stay on the line during a 911 call to assist Calgary PSC with locating addresses when dispatching ambulance. Also, to help financially, we have asked to move forward legislation for cell phone revenues to go to local 911 dispatches.
We are pleased with the results of our meetings, our FRESC letter writing campaign and presentation of the Rural EMS Direction (RED) to the Minister of Health in March. Minister Horne asked for the Health Quality Council of Alberta to conduct an independent review of transition issues related to the transfer of governance and funding, dispatch consolidation, integrated fire/EMS service providers, challenges specific to rural and remote areas of the province, etc. Results are to be presented directly to the Legislature in October.
Next, we plan on visiting our partnering municipalities to give an update on our commission, share the RED doc, and explain why we need a Rural EMS Strategy for rural communities and continued advocacy.
To read the RED doc visit www.suzanneoel.com
MD of Foothills