|Mayor hopes for smooth ambulance transition|
|Local Content - Local News|
|Written by Trevor Busch|
|Wednesday, 06 March 2013 20:10|
Alberta Health Services (AHS) will be assuming control of the responsibility to provide ambulance service to Taber and surrounding communities on March 15.
Town council voted to divest the ambulance service in late November 2012 in a unanimous vote following consultations with the councils of the Municipal District of Taber, the Town of Vauxhall, and the Village of Barnwell.
With the conclusion of recent contract negotiations and discussions over a transfer of assets to AHS, the service is about to officially pass into the hands of the province for implementation of their direct delivery model.
“We’ve had our staff sit down with EMS and come up with a contract which is retroactive to April 1, 2012,” said Mayor Ray Bryant. “There were some negotiations going on in 2012, but until we made the decision to continue on or divest, we couldn’t finalize things. Once that decision was made, we were able to sit down with CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) EMS to finalize the contract. The contract itself basically is very similar, in particular in terms of monetary wages, its identical to Alberta Health Services. That should make the transition even better.”
Divesting the town's ambulance service, which had been under contract to AHS since 2009, places responsibility for providing ambulance service under the direction, administration and financial burden of AHS.
“We hope that the transition will be seamless,” said Bryant. “Management is management, so whether we’re managing it or whether Alberta Health Services is managing it, the key thing is that when the call goes out, someone will be there as quickly as possible to deal with whatever emergency is there. We anticipate that it will be seamless.”
As part of the transition, AHS will continue to provide one Advance Life Support (ALS) and a Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulance. The service will be enhanced with the BLS ambulance being upgraded to an ALS ambulance by the end of 2013.
The ALS ambulances will be staffed with at least one paramedic with additional training to provide advanced airway management and administration of medication
“The one ambulance will be based out of the hospital, and they will be renting some space for two units out of the bay where we have them now,” said Bryant.
“One will be for the backup ambulance, and the other will be for a van that will be used to cover the Vauxhall area. The first unit will be Advance Life Support (ALS), the second unit will be Basic Life Support, and by the end of the year, we will have two ALS units. That means one paramedic and an EMT.”
When ambulance staff is not responding to calls, they will be assisting other health care staff at the Taber Health Centre, supporting local home care and public health.
Negotiations with AHS focused on ensuring a smooth transition for the service as well as securing adequate compensation for the Town of Taber in liquidation of various service-related assets.
“The negotiations with Alberta Health Services has gone reasonably well. It would appear that come March 15, everything will be looked after. We wanted to ensure that we received fair compensation for the new ambulance, and for any equipment that Alberta Health Services wanted to be part of the deal,” said Bryant.
Bryant reported EMS staff are currently engaged in intensive AHS training and transition preparation this week at the Taber Health Centre and the fire hall.
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