Stettler County council hears details of ambulance dispatch problems

Dispatch philosophy leads to ambulances clustered around cities

Confusion over the addressing system in the County of Stettler’s Erskine-South Warden division led to a broad discussion of ambulance dispatch across the province during December’s County of Stettler meeting.

After complaints that some ambulances had gone to the wrong locations in this area, Mark Ratch of the Stettler & District Ambulance Association noted that ambulance dispatch is a province-wide problem.

This is because 911 calls from central Alberta go to either Calgary or Edmonton, and are then re-directed to Red Deer. From there calls are then dispatched to authorities within the area.

Ambulances are then assigned by their proximity to the call, so if it leaves the Stettler area it can be dispatched to another local call there. An example used was an ambulance that had to deliver a patient to Calgary in early December, then had to respond to calls in southern Alberta for the rest of the day.

Another issue brought up was the requirement to backfill larger community centres with standby ambulances. This means that if Drumheller is down an ambulance, one from the Stettler area may be called to fill its place.

As for what the County can do, it was suggested that they bring the issue to the spring AAMDC convention meeting with other counties and municipal districts around the province.

They were also advised to ensure that the public is giving as much pertinent information as possible when providing a location to 911 and that all address signage is properly visible.

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