Alberta ombudsman says AHS decision on dispatching EMS not within his jurisdiction
Alberta’s ombudsman says she won’t be able to help mayors who are hoping to get more answers about recent changes to 911 ambulance dispatch in their cities.
However, Marianne Ryan confirmed that the change was a decision made by Alberta Health Services.
“Although many government-related bodies fall under my jurisdiction, AHS is not one of them,” the ombudsman said in a press release on Friday. “In fact, the Ombudsman Act expressly states that my investigative powers do not apply to health authorities.
“My ability to investigate AHS decisions would require a change in the law.”
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The mayors of Red Deer, Lethbridge, Calgary and the Rural Municipality of Wood Buffalo filed a complaint with the Ombudsman on October 13.
Municipalities objected to the decision to route 911 calls in their communities through provincial dispatch centres.
Before finalizing the consolidation in January, AHS said the move would save money and improve patient care, but mayors of affected communities and first responders still strongly opposed the idea. .
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Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek, who was a councilor when the change took effect, expressed continued disappointment with the move.
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“All we’ve seen and heard about the EMS dispatch is that it continues to be terrible, and I don’t see it getting any better until we can get back to the system that we planes,” she said.
In presentations to the previous city council, Calgary 911 representatives said having dispatchers for fire, police and ambulance in the same room – known as “twist and shout” – allowed dispatchers to deliver resources to citizens in need more quickly.
“For my life, I still don’t understand why we had to walk away from it,” Gondek said on Friday.
“(It) is incredibly disheartening that municipalities and their citizens have not been listened to.”
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Normally, the ombudsman does not comment publicly on complaints, but this case was different.
“Given that the substance of the complaint has been widely reported in the media and relates to an issue affecting a large number of Albertans, I have informed the mayors that I will be making a public statement,” Ryan said.
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