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AHS announces changes to Wainwright ambulance service

Wainwright’s ambulance service will be seeing some changes.

Alberta Health Services says they will only staff the ambulance hall from 8 a.m to 8 p.m, while keeping responders on call at home overnight in case of an emergency.

Acting Associate Executive Director of EMS in the Central Zone Scott Holsworth says many communities already see this type of emergency service.

“This is typical for a community the same size as Wainwright,” Holsworth said. “This will increase the effectiveness and the ability of the ambulance within the community, as well as add the ALS level of service… it will decrease fatigue on the staff, as well as overtime overall for our budget.”

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The change has met with some resistance, including from Battle River-Wainwright MLA Wes Taylor, who calls the change dangerous.

“When there’s an incident, whether it’s a heart attack or an accident, the only thing you have control of is the response time,” Taylor said. “With this [decision], they’re taking away the ability to have a quicker response time. It’s going to take people 10 minutes to go from their home to the ambulance hall, then to take off, and if it’s winter, and it’s -30 [or] -40, it’s snowed, and they have to fire up their vehicles, it’s going to take [an] additional 10 minutes. When you’re having a life-saving situation, you don’t want to take the only variable that you have control of off the table.”

Taylor raised the issue during question period in the Legislature, and he says the government promised to look into it.

The changes will take effect Monday, December 14.

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