Fire dispatch flaming out?
| Posted: Wednesday, Mar 06, 2013 12:58 pm
On Monday the provincial government announced it would proceed with centralizing dispatch services for Alberta’s ambulances.
However, what was not included in the announcement is the fate of many of Alberta’s fire dispatch services which could be financially unviable without the ambulance dispatch service as well.
Many provincial groups, including the Foothills Regional Emergency Services Commission (FRESC), have managed dispatch for ambulance and fire in their areas.
FRESC, which includes representatives from foothills municipalities, argued vehemently to keep ambulance dispatch at the local level.
They argued FRESC was simply able to provide a better service — their staff knew rural roads and addresses, they wanted their ambulances in the rural area not sitting idle in Calgary.
However, armed with a report released by the Alberta Health Quality Council, the Province elected to proceed with centralizing the service. Dispatch for the foothills area will continue to be done in Calgary.
What has been overlooked in the transition is the fact fire dispatch was not included in the centralizing program.
As a result, groups such as FRESC will still be responsible for dispatching fire services in their area.
It would seem simple enough, except FRESC still needs to maintain the same number of staff, but must do so without the benefit of funding it received for ambulance dispatch.
Therefore, FRESC must find ways to make its service financially viable to ensure fire dispatch continues uninterrupted.
To do so FRESC will have to secure other dispatch contracts, which is somewhat hypocritical considering they staunchly believe dispatch is best done locally. Unfortunately, they have no choice.
If FRESC cannot find additional revenue the local fire dispatch will be in trouble. In truth, it likely already is due to Monday’s announcement.
The provincial government is moving ahead with centralizing ambulance dispatch to eliminate overlap of service, ensure standardized technology and to save money.
However, it must also include fire dispatch in this venture or people will be using smoke signals to call the fire department.