EMS dispatch consolidation to benefit patients  

August 4, 2020

CALGARY – Alberta Health Services (AHS) is announcing today that EMS 911 dispatch services will be consolidated across the province, further improving patient care and fiscal efficiency.

In alignment with a recommendation from the EY AHS Review, the EMS 911 calls handled by four municipally-run contracted satellite dispatch sites located in Calgary, Lethbridge, Red Deer and the Municipality of Wood Buffalo will be transitioned to one of three existing AHS EMS dispatch centres. These four municipally-run sites had remained separate from the AHS EMS provincial dispatch system established in 2009.

This transition affects EMS 911 dispatch services only; all local municipal fire, police and Medical First Response (MFR) will continue to be dispatched by the local municipalities.

“The adoption of this recommendation from the EY AHS Review is a further evolution of Alberta’s promise to put patients first,” said Tyler Shandro, Alberta’s Minister of Health. “The provincial EMS dispatch system allows for better coordination of all EMS resources, including ground ambulances, and air resources, and reliable response times. EMS dispatch consolidation supports improved health integration and will facilitate broader health reforms.”

This province-wide EMS dispatch system will improve patient care through more efficient co-ordination of all EMS resources, which allows EMS to send the nearest available ambulance to a patient regardless of geographic boundaries. EMS 911 dispatch also has the ability to involve real-time physician consultation on emergency calls to ensure patients get the highest quality care when they need it.

“The consolidation is the right decision for any Albertan needing emergency medical care,” said Dr. Verna Yiu, AHS President and CEO. “This will improve care and ensure we are being fiscally responsible.”

“This is about Albertans and providing the best care to 911 callers and patients. 911 callers will notice no change when they call for emergency help. By bringing all EMS services together, we are better able to maintain consistency and ensure sustainability of EMS dispatch services across all communities” said Darren Sandbeck, Chief Paramedic and Senior Provincial Director, AHS EMS.

While this consolidation is not primarily a financial decision, consolidation of the four municipal satellite dispatch centres will eliminate duplication and save over $6 million annually.

The transition will take place over approximately six months, commencing August 4, 2020. When the transition is complete, EMS calls will be seamlessly transitioned from municipal call centres, to the AHS EMS provincial communications centres located in Peace River, Edmonton and Calgary. Callers to 911 will not notice any change.

To ensure resources are in place to meet increased call volume to the EMS Communications Centres, AHS EMS will hire 25 new Emergency Communications Officers (ECOs). Current municipal employees will be encouraged to apply for these roles.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.

For media inquiries, contact:

Erin Lawrence
AHS Communications