WHEREAS the delivery of emergency services is related as it applies to fire response, accident response and ambulance response; and
WHEREAS many municipalities provide medical co-response due to the unavailability of ambulances; and WHEREAS the decision of the province to separate the dispatch and communications systems for ambulance service provided by Alberta Health Services has created communication barriers between fire and ambulance; and
WHEREAS an emergency that affects many properties and/or many people such as multi-peril accidents, wild fire and tornadoes create huge traffic through dispatch in order to have communication between fire, municipal services and ambulance;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the AAMDC request that the Province of Alberta address immediately, the lack of direct communication between fire, municipal services and ambulance to prevent lags in emergency response time during significant emergency events, by allowing the placement of additional radios in ambulance units.
Recently the MD of Willow Creek experienced two significant wild fires, on the same day, at the same time 50 miles apart. Given the severity of the two fires, the threat to human life and property and the need to coordinate and communicate across all municipal and emergency services agencies, and given the amount of radio chatter through central dispatch, communications broke down between fire and ambulance resulting in the inability of fire to speak directly to ambulance when their services were needed.
Resolution 2-11F: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts & Counties (AAMDC) request the Province of Alberta to halt the transition of Ambulance Dispatch Centres and that the Standing Issues Committee undertake a joint review with Alberta Urban Municipalities Association to ensure that first responders, ambulance and fire remain as or be returned to one unified, efficient, dispatch to enhance communications while responding to emergencies in Alberta. Resolution 21-11F: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request that the Government of Alberta pass legislation compelling cellular telephone service providers operating in Alberta to collect a monthly cellular 911 call answer fee from its subscribers and remit those revenues to the municipalities operating 911 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPS).
Health: Alberta Health Services (AHS) is working with municipalities and other stakeholders in deploying solutions to enable communication between Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and fire dispatch centres and between resources responding to emergencies. These solutions vary between communities.
The Minister of Health has asked the Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) to review the status of ground EMS in Alberta and to provide a report and recommendations by October 31, 2012. While this review will not examine the decision to transfer governance and funding of EMS from municipalities to the health system, it will examine the impacts resulting from this transfer. The review has a broad scope which, from a patient safety and quality perspective, will include EMS dispatch consolidations, the availability and adequacy of data on EMS and challenges specific to rural areas and to integrated fire/EMS service providers. The results of this review will be valuable in setting the direction of EMS for the future.
The AAMDC will be a stakeholder in the HQCA EMS review. EMS is part of health care, and EMS dispatch should be closely aligned with the health system for maximum benefits to patients. The Ministry of Health has many examples of how consolidated EMS dispatch provided more rapid responses to individual patients needing acute emergency medical care.
Municipal Affairs: Municipal Affairs has no comment on this resolution, as ambulance policy falls under the jurisdiction of Alberta Health, and work on first responder radio interoperability is being conducted by Alberta Justice and Solicitor General.
Justice and Solicitor General: Justice and Solicitor General takes very seriously the requirement for all first responders to be able to communicate during emergency events.
Understanding that the primary issue resulting in this resolution is under the purview of Alberta Health Services and their development of a province-wide ambulance service with associated dispatch services, the ministry wishes to offer the following supporting information.
The ministry began procuring a province-wide two-way voice communication radio system for first responders in 2008. This system is currently being built out and when operational, it will create an opportunity for law enforcement, fire and ambulance services to operate on one radio system. This will provide a voluntary, long-term solution, capable of delivering the type of direct communication between first responders that is envisioned in Resolution 1-12S.
The Alberta First Responder Radio Communication System (AFRRCS) is currently under construction and will be completed in 2016. The system will provide two-way radio communication between emergency responders and will be available to municipal emergency responder agencies including fire, police and ambulance. Currently, the system will only provide oral communication to emergency with limited data capability. As AFRRCS will not be fully operational until 2016, this resolution remains Unsatisfactory. The AAMDC will continue to monitor the implementation of the AFRRCS and its ability to meet the needs of the AAMDC membership.