By Cole Parkinson
As rural communities continue to deal with the lack of ambulances in their areas, counties in southern Alberta are discussing how to proceed.
The Municipal District of Taber received a letter from Vulcan County about how they were looking at bringing back their own emergency service. Council was able to review the letter during their regular meeting on Sept. 13 — and the letter led to a larger discussion around the province’s desire to bring a regional approach to different services.
“I admire them for trying to maintain their emergency services under their own control. There’s been a lot of concern over the last couple months, or even last couple of years, of emergency services leaving the local area and going to larger centres,” stated Coun. Brian Hildebrand. “I wish them well.”
The letter explained the county had “provided notice of intent to Alberta Health Services to transition back to a municipal emergency medical service” and they were reaching out to municipal neighbours to gauge interest in “exploring alternative ambulance servicing options within our region.”
While council is concerned about ambulance services in Alberta, many were not in favour of moving forward with a new approach offered by Vulcan County. Deputy Reeve Tamara Miyanaga pointed out the provincial government created this mess and she stated more lobbying to get them to fix it should be their way forward. She added establishing their own service right now would create lots of new challenges as well, so moving in a completely new direction would not be seamless.
“It speaks to the commentary we have been providing to the government and AHS on that we need to ensure that we have consistent and reliable ambulance services for our residents at all times. It seems remiss to me if our council decides to go ahead and create another ambulance service when we already had that and the province took that over and said they were going to create a better system. Now we have to go backwards and restart and have ambulances built from the bottom up with staff — they can’t get enough staff for AHS ones. So, who would be the staff municipally?” she asked. “There are so many questions, so for me, we continue to hammer at the government on finding a better solution. They continue to say they are looking at it and revising, so I wouldn’t want the M.D. of Taber to let our foot off the gas on ensuring that all corners of our municipality are covered, but for me, I’m not at the point where I think we should launch into a project to figure out how to have our own ambulance.”
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