AHS EMS Dispatch Consolidation

Emergency Medical Services

AHS Emergency Medical Services (EMS) has completed consolidation of 911 EMS dispatch services. The work done by four municipally-run satellite sites, Calgary, Lethbridge, Red Deer and the Municipality of Wood Buffalo, is now being handled by one of the three AHS EMS dispatch sites: the Northern Communications Centre (NCC, in Peace River) and the Southern Communications Centre (SCC, in Calgary) and Central Communications Centre (CCC, in Edmonton).

Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Chief Paramedic Darren Sandbeck share information about EMS Dispatch Consolidation.

Patient safety is at the core of every decision we make. This includes our approach to dispatching of EMS services across Alberta.

A province-wide EMS dispatch system is more efficient and allows better co-ordination of all resources, allowing EMS to send the nearest available ambulance to a patient regardless of any geographic boundaries.

It is important to note 911 callers will notice absolutely no change. Ambulance Response Times have not changed. Ambulances are not being delayed. Medical first response through fire departments is being handled exactly as it always has been.

AHS now dispatches ambulances for about 100% of Alberta’s population. Over the last 11 years AHS handled dispatch successfully for 60% of Alberta, and has an outstanding record of timely response and successful outcomes.

Changing the way dispatch is handled will not result in any service delays. Monthly reports on calls to 911 show calls are answered in less than 10 seconds, 95 per cent of the time; AHS ambulance dispatch has never had a 911 call waiting in a queue. Callers are also not required to repeat information to multiple dispatchers.

AHSEMS is bringing all EMS ambulance dispatch services under the AHS umbrella. Nothing will change for 911 callers, and we will still be able to involve our other first responder partners as quickly and easily as we do now.

Nothing will change with respect to the process for dispatching Fire/Rescue or Medical First Response (MFR). The instant Computer Assisted Dispatch (CAD) to CAD interface with the four municipalities currently used to request Fire/Rescue or MFR response remains in place. The CAD to CAD interface model was implemented in 2011 and has performed with minimal interruption. The interfaces successfully manage tens of thousands requests annually for medical first response.

What is changing? When you call 911 and need an ambulance, the operator will transfer you to an AHS dispatcher instead of a city one. That’s it. Callers will not notice any change.

Consolidation of the four satellite dispatch centres will also save AHS more than $6 million, annually. This is a fiscally responsible transition that will maintain patient safety and ensure consistency and sustainability of dispatch services across all communities. AHS EMS looks forward to continued collaboration with our municipal partners and the Government as we phase in this transition.

When Albertans call 911, a dispatcher takes the call, but physicians are also available 24/7 to collaborate on calls with paramedics. This is called Online Medical Consultation (OLMC), or Doctors in Dispatch.


Quick Reference

Performance Dashboard

Alberta Health Services Emergency Medical Services is constantly working to improve the high quality care Albertans receive every day. Many different factors go into measuring the level of care and satisfaction provided by EMS.AHS is publicly posting six EMS-specific performance measures in the form of a performance dashboard.

These measures reflect key areas within EMS that are important measurements of patient safety and care.