AHS statement on recent developments around EMS dispatch

February 10, 2021

Alberta Health Services and Alberta Health learned last night that the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo has signaled its intention to no longer transfer 911 calls to AHS EMS dispatch. 

Our entire focus is on ensuring residents of Wood Buffalo get the care they need when they call 911.

AHS has been doing this for more than two-thirds of the province for the last decade. It is what we do, an integral part of our mandate to deliver publicly funded health care.

We are concerned that the intention signaled by the municipality could adversely affect patient care. We’re currently seeking further information.

The municipality has not provided any evidence to AHS to suggest that the recent consolidation of EMS dispatch has led to any delays or inappropriate responses. In addition, the municipality has not provided any information that would back up their public claims that they are having to intervene in specific EMS calls due to integration of dispatch.

AHS has looked into every event that has been raised to date, and there have been no issues or intervention required by the municipality. As of this afternoon, AHS is continuing to receive and dispatch 911 calls. 

No information has been brought forward to show that dispatch consolidation has resulted in any adverse events, response delays or negative outcomes. Quite the opposite in fact – since consolidation first occurred over a decade ago, AHS EMS has successfully and safely dispatched over half a million calls each year.

EMS always responds immediately to any urgent or life threatening 911 call. We dispatch ambulances in the same way municipalities did before: 911 calls are handled in exactly the same way today as they were prior to the transition of dispatch to AHS.

AHS EMS dispatch also has access to exactly the same mapping and location data as the municipalities did prior to transition.

Ambulance services in each community are being delivered by the same local paramedics who have always provided this service. These local professionals know the streets, locations and neighbourhoods and will continue working with EMS dispatch to respond to any emergency in every local community.

Our provincial dispatch system works well, it is effective and it has the best interests of all Albertans at heart.