Reports of ‘lost ambulance’ just plain wrong: ambulance representative

Mark Ratch of Stettler Ambulance tells Stettler County council problems are elsewhere

By Stu Salkeld The Stettler Independent

County of Stettler council heard a detailed presentation by Stettler District Ambulance Association at their regular council meeting Dec. 13 in response to ratepayers claiming one or more ambulances “got lost.’

The issue originally came up at council’s November meeting. Councilor James Nibourg told his peers ratepayers had contacted him about Stettler District Ambulance Services ambulances coming to their yard when they did not call for one; the ratepayers guided the ambulance or ambulances on to the correct address.

As council welcomed SDAA representative Mark Ratch, advanced care paramedic/supervisor, Nibourg said his original comments or concerns may have been lost in translation. He himself was more concerned about the loss of rural ambulance availability.

Ratch said the original callers or taxpayers who contacted Nibourg must have been wrong. “We don’t get lost,” said Ratch to council.

He said if an ambulance was at the wrong address, it was because the ambulance was misdirected by someone other than SDAA. He said ambulance vehicles are directed by a dispatch system that forwards information from the emergency or 911 call.

Ratch said if an ambulance arrives at the correct location and there’s no one there, the crew start to make phone calls.

Nibourg said he knows of two or three incidents where an ambulance drove past the residence which called in the emergency.

Ratch responded that some callers do not provide the proper information when they phone in for an ambulance.

Nibourg asked what the county can do to prevent this. Ratch said, sometimes, the people who can address this issue won’t take responsibility. “There’s a lot of people who pass the buck,” said Ratch.

He noted that county residents should ensure that the phone company has their proper address on file, and not a previous address that’s still associated with a phone number. Also, rural addressing signage should always be checked for accuracy and easy to see from the roadway.

It was mentioned at the meeting that the County of Stettler’s rural addressing bylaw requires signage to be in clear view, but that the municipality usually doesn’t write tickets.

Councilor Cheri Neitz asked if ambulance staff can speak directly to the person calling. Ratch answered no, but ambulance staff can ask the dispatcher to provide the caller’s phone number so ambulance staff can call them directly.

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