By Collin Gallant/ Justin Seward
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Health Minister Tyler Shandro says no final decisions have been made about a report that suggests a single air-ambulance service could provide province-wide standards, but perhaps leave a local agency out of a new system.
The HEMS report was released in June after several months of delay. It calls for Alberta Health Services to develop base levels for service involving STARS air ambulance. That raised questions about the future of HALO Air Rescue in southeast Alberta and HERO in Fort McMurray.
Local officials with HALO have not commented on the report and did not return calls seeking comment July 6.
“We’re going to continue to listen before we decide which of the recommendations and how they would be implemented in the end,” Shandro told reporters during a July 6 morning announcement in Medicine Hat about ground ambulance procedures.
He said he had met with the HALO officials earlier in the morning and toured their facilities with Brooks-Medicine Hat MLA Michaela Glasgo.
“We’ve made a commitment to listen to those affected by the report,” Shandro continued.
“Many of the recommendations aren’t related to funding but making sure the system has standards, that we’re improving the system, and I’m looking forward to understanding how that will be implemented and understand the implications of having all the different partners in the system work together.”
Glasgo thought for herself and Shandro to hear stories from workers on the ground such as paramedics who have worked with HALO and what they’ve done for the community was impactful.
“If anything, that was one of the most important things we did today,” said Glasgo, of being in attendance at the HALO meeting.
“I want constituents to know just how much I care about HALO and I am committed to make sure that HALO will always have a seat at the table. So, no matter what happens and no matter what they’re hearing, that they know I’m on their side with this issue and our community cares about HALO. It’s important that they see that their elected officials understand that. The minister came down today (July 6) and wanted a tour of the facility—so he could see it for himself. I think that speaks to how impactful the HALO story really is.”
Glasgo said the conversations were productive.
With files from Collin Gallant, Medicine Hat News