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UCP can bring back 9-1-1 EMS dispatch to Foothills

When in an emergency,  it’s nice to get help close to home.

Foothills County is hoping the UCP will allow its residents — and those in Okotoks, Black Diamond-Turner Valley — to talk to someone close at home when in an emergency and possibly trying to save a loved one.

The UCP announced tentative changes to health services last week to cut costs.

The UCP government ran on a platform that it will reduce spending, but it also stressed it would listen to Albertans — and health care is being reviewed.

 Foothills Regional Emergency Services Commission hopes the provincial government listens.

FRESC, currently chaired by Foothills County Reeve Suzanne Oel, has been asking 911 dispatch for its area be under its umbrella since 2009 —  since Ed Stelmach was premier. There’s been six premiers, under three different parties, since that time.

Without doubt centralizing servicing can help cut costs as it cuts down on staff, offices and other expenses. But a call to an emergency dispatch is not an area to be compromised.

At present, ambulance calls from the Foothills go through Alberta Health Services in Calgary. The EMS dispatchers are qualified but a more local dispatcher could assist in ways that can’t be measured — such as a panicked caller who may be giving the address as ‘take a left by the Big Rock’ or ‘We are near Six Corners’ — not an unlikely scenario in rural Foothills.

Having Foothills dispatch could also ease communication to local first-responders.

It’s not the first time FRESC has made a request to take back control of its dispatch.

In 2017, it brought forward concerns about AHS-controlled dispatch — and its sentiments were shared by the then opposition UCP. Now the UCP are in power and hopefully can take this emergency call. And make the right call in an emergency.


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