CHESTERMERE – If the bay doors at the fire hall are open, passerby might notice a new kind of vehicle parked among the fleet.
Last week, Chestermere officially became home to it’s first Alberta Health Services (AHS) ambulance.
Deputy Mayor Kelsey Johnson said that although the ambulance is an asset to the community, it will not necessarily increase response time in Chestermere, as the unit does not serve the area exclusively. Depending on what kind of calls come in, the ambulance will go to the city if needed, and it will either return later in the day, or an alternate unit will replace it. He said that it all depends on where the units are at and how the schedules work out.
“The way our unit will work is that it will attempt to come home after each outing, but due to call volume, its location and the urgency of another call, they may not make it back,” Johnson said. “There will sometimes be cases where a different unit will come out to take the place of our home unit.”
Johnson said that just because it’s here does not mean the EMS response will be any quicker, but that having the unit here is a step in the right direction for future services in the community.
“(If the EMS are busy) Our firefighters will be going as first responders, so the service will be the same, if not better, as it has always been,” he said.
Johnson said that they had been talking with AHS for almost two years about getting a unit in place in Chestermere, and that once the decision was made that it would be housed here, it arrived in a matter of days.
The AHS emergency team that will accompany the unit will not have overnight accommodations at the fire hall, but they will have a break room as well as an office space. They will be on shift from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m daily.
“Eventually we hope to grow into offering 24-hour service, and then potentially getting another unit,” Johnson said. “For now it’s just about getting the service out here, and this is a positive step forward.
“It’s just a presence for now, but we’re hoping to grow from here.”
Johnson said that hopefully the unit can alleviate some demand for ambulances not only in this community, but in close Calgary communities as well.
As far as how the ambulance might tie into a future community health centre, Johnson said that any partnership is likely years away, as the current plans for the Chestermere Health Centre do not include any critical care aspects.
“There’s been discussions about the future health centre being able to do things like set broken arms and do stitches, so it’s a possibility that we could make sure that ambulance could go over and drop them off,” he said. “But these kind of plans are still pretty far into the future.
“Right now we’re just trying to alleviate some pressure and help things runs smoothly, so hopefully it will help.”