The province's top paramedic is refuting claims that the new centralized EMS dispatch system is causing delays that could prove deadly for some patients.

The Foothills Regional Emergency Services Commission (FRESC) claims there have been a number of cases in its jurisdiction where dispatch times were well in excess of the 90 seconds or less that Alberta Health Services has set as a benchmark for ambulance response.

"We've been unable to actually determine any of the examples that they've used," stated Chief Paramedic Darren Sandbeck. "We continue to work to try and track those down and work together with FRESC to determine a path forward from a quality perspective."

AHS promised quicker dispatch and response times when it moved to a centralized dispatch service from the local and regional services that existed prior to 2009, when the change was made.

"When you have significant change such as this, there is growing pains and people need to adapt to new technology and new systems and new processes, so I think that's to be expected when we have this large change," Sandbeck elaborated.

He claims they're meeting their target of a 90 second turnaround for dispatchers 89 per cent of the time, just one per cent off their goal.

"Our dispatchers know what's going on across the province: they can see all calls that are going on anywhere in the province," Sandbeck explained. "They can see ambulance units moving around and you really have the ability to provide that closest ambulance to the scene. It's just a really big picture of what's going on in the EMS system."

He added they haven't had complaints about dispatch and ambulance response times from anywhere else in the province other than Foothills, south of Calgary.


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