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Zwozdesky freezes plan to centralize ambulance dispatch

Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky is suspending a plan to centralize Alberta’s ambulance-dispatch services until a review can determine if the move is still practical.

Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky is suspending a plan to centralize Alberta’s ambulance-dispatch services until a review can determine if the move is still practical.

The temporary freeze also applies to a division of fire and emergency medical services in dozens of Alberta communities.

The minister says in some cases, when ambulances are dispatched, communities are being left without enough people to respond to a fire and vice versa.

“You can’t have everybody flooding and flocking from the fire side to deal with another emergency and leaving the other plank open,” he said yesterday. “We have to figure out how that can be done in a better, more efficient way.”

Complaints are also surfacing in rural Alberta about having all ambulances dispatched from Edmonton, Calgary and Grimshaw, said Zwozdesky.

Alberta Health Services will move quickly to determine if that’s still the best option, given advances in modern communication.

The review is expected to take a few months.

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