Calgary, AB,

Patient care, quality drives Calgary EMS dispatch model





Alberta Health Services (AHS) and The City of Calgary have reached an agreement in principle for the provision of patient-centred EMS dispatch services, designed to improve patient outcomes.

The City will maintain dispatch services for EMS calls made inside Calgary city limits starting April 1, 2017. EMS calls from other areas currently served by The City will be dispatched by AHS, including all inter-facility transfers.

The new agreement will see The City use AHS technology, including dispatch software and telephony. This cooperation and collaboration means The City can dispatch local EMS services, while being connected with AHS’ provincial dispatch model. Transition to one provincial EMS dispatch system was recommended by the Health Quality Council of Alberta.

Benefits to patients of the new agreement include:

  • The closest available ambulance can respond in every emergency.
  • Status and location of ambulances are available in real time to all dispatch centres.
  • AHS provides common technology and training for all dispatch centres, allowing centres to operate under one system.
  • Additional backup protection in case one dispatch centre experiences increased workload, or a service outage.

“We have found a solution that brings The City of Calgary’s expertise in EMS dispatch into Alberta Health Services’ province-wide system. This is what happens when you get decision makers into the same room for frank discussions about how we can solve complex problems and deliver the best service to Albertans,” says Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman.

“We have taken every step to ensure that this agreement improves the quality of EMS dispatch services, and care to patients,” says Dr. Verna Yiu, AHS President and CEO. “More Albertans will benefit from receiving care from the nearest available ambulance in an emergency, under a system that has patients at heart. We look forward to ongoing collaboration with The City of Calgary, other municipal partners and the Government to continue to improve patient care for all Albertans.”

“I am extremely pleased with this resolution, and I want to thank all parties who have worked so hard to get us here today. This is an important agreement for the citizens of Calgary. Integrated dispatch service ensures response times are streamlined and patients are served as quickly as possible. EMS attends close to 25,000 calls with fire services each year in Calgary, and continued collaboration means Calgarians will continue to receive the high quality emergency response they have come to expect,” says Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

AHS currently operates three communications centres for EMS dispatch: the Northern Communications Centre in Peace River, the Central Communications Centre in Edmonton, and the Southern Communications Centre (SCC) in Calgary.

In addition, three satellite dispatch centres operate in Fort McMurray (run by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo), Red Deer (run by the City of Red Deer) and soon in Lethbridge (run by the City of Lethbridge).

The SCC is unique in that most of its work – the dispatching of EMS services in Calgary and 77 other municipalities – is currently contracted to The City of Calgary. Under the new agreement, EMS calls from all other areas currently served by The City will be received and dispatched by AHS.

AHS and The City will have the new agreement in place by April 1, 2017.

For more information about Alberta’s provincial EMS dispatch model, visit

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