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Mayor Spearman speaks out on centralized EMS systems

September 25, 2020

Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman has returned from Edmonton following a meeting with the mayors of Red Deer, Calgary and Wood Buffalo who all suggest the government's plan to consolidate 911 dispatch services will put lives at risk.

All four mayors met with Alberta's health minister, Tyler Shandro who said he would review the mayors’ concerns and said he would “consider their proposal” but soon after released a statement saying he’s still on board with the centralized system.

The province says it would save money and make the EMS dispatch service more efficient. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says 911 dispatch should be operated at the municipal level because local knowledge and integration with fire services can't be overlooked if safety is to be the top priority. 

Friday Mayor Chris Spearman shared with the media his main concerns on a local level. He says that the bottom line is to ensure EMS services in Lethbridge are available and response times aren’t affected. He also provided specific examples of how response times could be longer with a centralized system. 

"Recently, there was an incident at Henderson Lake Park where someone collapsed," says Spearman. "They were unconscious and the people called 911. When it was answered they (the dispatcher) said 'where are you?' and they said 'Henderson Lake Park' and they (the dispatcher) said 'what city is that?'." Spearman went on to say the service asked for the "physical address", which creates delays in matters of life and death.