Town out of ambulance biz
Town still negotiating asset sales
Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012 06:00 am
As of this Sunday, April 1, the Town of Westlock will no longer be in the ambulance business, and is in negotiations to sell its assets and lease its ambulance bay to a new provider.
Alberta Health Services has signed a contract with Associated Ambulance, a Mayerthorpe-based provider that runs ambulance services in several communities including Athabasca, Lac La Biche and Thorhild, will officially take over the job.
Trevor Maslyk, executive director of EMS operations for the Edmonton and north zones, said the change won’t have much of an impact on area residents, since the new provider has a good track record, is familiar with the area, and has committed to providing the same level of service the town was providing.
“There will be absolutely no decrease in the level of service,” he said. “Where they have been provided with Advanced Life Support through the town, the contract that Associated signed with us — with respect to level of service — is exactly the same level of service.”
Maslyk added the fact that Associated Ambulance has provided service for 33 years in north-central Alberta makes it the right choice to take over the service in Westlock. “When the Town of Westlock chose to not renew their ambulance contract with us, and officially divest their responsibility from ambulance provision, Associated was the vendor that made the most sense relative to service there.”
With the creation of the Alberta Health Services board in 2008, which replaced the nine individual regional boards in the province, ambulance service has become the jurisdiction of the board. While many municipalities have continued to provide the service under contract to AHS, many have chosen to end their contracts.
For many years, the town was part of a regional ambulance service, alongside Westlock County, the Village of Clyde and the MD of Lesser Slave River. This changed to the current arrangement in 2009, which sees the town provide ambulance service under contract to AHS.
Westlock town council made the decision Jan. 10, 2011 to not renew the contract, citing concerns about the length of the contract AHS wanted and the administrative work involved in fulfilling that contract.
“What the province wanted was a five-year commitment by us, being the Town of Westlock, to enter into a five-year contract with them to provide ambulance services,” mayor Bruce Lennon said after the decision was made. “After analysis by our administration as well as by council, we feel it was a lot of red tape and administrative work.”
The Town of Westlock is currently the owner of all the assets related to ambulance service in the area, including the ambulances themselves and the ambulance bay located at 106 Ave. and 102 St.
Carol Revega, Westlock’s director of legislative and corporate services, said the town is seeking to sell most of the equipment related to ambulance service, including the ambulances and a lot of the medical equipment.
“The majority of the assets, we’re in negotiations with Associated Ambulance for them to purchase them,” she said.
As for the building itself, the town will maintain ownership and is currently negotiating a lease agreement with the new provider.
In terms of the ambulance staff, Garceau said when council made the decision not to renew its contract, the town gave notice to the ambulance employees that their employment with the town would end March 31.
“For the past five or six months, representatives with Associated have been in discussions with that union,” he said. “Our assumption is they’re going to transition over to being employees of Associated Ambulance, but that’s a decision to be made by those employees, not the town.”
He added the change will mean the town’s director of emergency services, Stuart Koflick, would have his job description changed slightly as well. He currently acts as operations manager for the EMS service in Westlock, but after April 1 he will no longer have that responsibility.
“Mr. Koflick will continue to be the fire chief; we’ve got lots of work for him to do,” Garceau said. “He will continue as fire chief and director of disaster services.”