Ambulance response time could take off precious minutes to save a life, says reader

Eight minutes too long

Dear Editor:

I am writing to address a concern I have in regards to the local EMS response time upon calling 911.

On Sept. 15 at 11:59 a.m I was one of the first people on the scene of a multi-vehicle accident at the intersection of Hwy 12 and Hwy 56. I placed the 911 phone call at that time.

When my call was answered I stated my location and emergency, after which I was asked to provide what town I was in. After I provided such I was patched through to another operator who I had to provide all the same information to again.

The ambulance was the first emergency vehicle on scene. Bystanders had to assist in extracting an unconscious victim and place him on a stretcher. In addition, we assisted in loading him in the ambulance while at such time the fire department arrived, followed by RCMP.

In all, it took eight minutes and 56 seconds from the first contact with 911 until the ambulance arrived on the scene. It took approximately two more minutes for fire and RCMP. All the while we were less than a block from the ambulance bay.

I have taken first aid and we were taught 911 is the fastest response to any emergency. I question whether or not lengthy of often unnecessary procedures get in the way of response times being as fast as possible.

I personally know several emergency responders and know they strive for fast responses because lives depend on them. So why is it that in this day and age the instant that an emergency call is placed with a smartphone equipped with GPS all the prudent information isn’t instantaneously given to the people that need it?

I feel as though there may be some improvements possible to the systems we already have in place that could take minutes off how long it takes for life-saving services to get to where they need to be.

Dennis Thomas,


Editor’s note: According to Linda Borg, Manager, Stettler District Ambulance Association, they are contracted by Alberta Health Services and operate as a core flex scheduling system. This means that Stettler ambulance crews respond from their homes while on duty while having to meet an eight-minute chute time. Borg said that this means when their crews are dispatched they have eight minutes to leave their homes, drive to the ambulance station and start responding to a call.

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