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EDITORIAL: Data will help make their case for better medical response

It’s never a bad idea to come armed with numbers if you’re bracing for a fight, and getting improved EMS service could prove to be a challenge.
Demand for EMS and STARS services remains high within Rocky View County.
The Town of Okotoks has begun collecting data on response times to medical emergencies.

It’s never a bad idea to come armed if you’re bracing for a fight. 

The fact the Town of Okotoks has begun collecting monthly data on response times to medical emergencies would suggest two things: local officials are concerned by the amount of time it takes to get help to citizens in distress and they want some figures to quantify the situation. What the Town is going to do with the data it collects is less clear, at least at the present time, but you can be certain it will be used to bolster an argument aimed at getting assistance to those in need in a more timely way. 

The simplest approach would be to use the numbers to lobby the provincial government to provide more resources in this area but given EMS response times are an issue across Alberta, it’s unlikely the Province is going to throw money at one location and not all the others. The only caveat to that is if our numbers paint an even bleaker picture, but there’s no indication that’s the case. 

The other approach is to address the medical response times internally by having firefighters trained to a higher standard in order to pick up the slack and then seek compensation for doing so. The first part of that equation is doable given the fire department is under municipal control, but the other half comes with significant challenges. 

Health care is a provincial responsibility, not a municipal one, so downloading even a small portion of it would create a slippery slope for local taxpayers. It also stands to reason that if the Province had money to compensate local government, it would simply invest those dollars in the EMS system instead. 

Despite the obstacles standing in the way of getting better emergency response, Okotoks council should be commended for its efforts in trying to address the situation. It won’t be easy cracking that provincial nut, but having cold, hard figures in your corner can never hurt.