A Town Hall is being held on Aug. 10 at the Cochrane Legion Hall to discuss the ambulance coverage issue and create a citizens' action committee to help solve the problem.
It's hoped similar action committees will be formed in Strathmore, Okotoks, and Airdrie to tackle an issue plaguing the entire Calgary region.
Veteran paramedic Don Sharpe, one of the organizers, says there's no time for further delay.
"Leaving rural communities without coverage days at a time is not acceptable," he says.
He's been working on the issues multiple years without any success in getting the needle to move. He says the situation is now dire.
"I've approached AHS numerous times with good ideas, and they've done their best to work it out, but I think in the end it's going to be up to the people in these communities. Do they care that an ambulance isn't there? And if they do, then let's get 10 citizens together, and let's try and solve this. Let's get a group of 10 citizens in Cochrane working with town councillors and 10 more citizens in Strathmore, Airdrie, Okotoks, and other communities, and let's solve this problem."
He believes a way must be found to address the long-standing issue once and for all and doesn't necessarily believe it requires the deployment of further resources.
"The Cochrane emergency ambulance should not be doing calls in Calgary, except in very rare circumstances," he says. "They also should not be doing non-emergency transfers from other districts or sitting and waiting with a patient in any of the five Calgary hospitals. We believe there is a solution."
Sharpe has been advocating an end to the practice of paramedics waiting with patients in hospital ER hallways and wrote a position paper on the topic in 2017.
He says there's no formal name for the group organizing the meetings.
"We're just a bunch of guys who have been watching this go on for years and years with no resolution. Now it's literally so bad, so bad, and there are so many poor outcomes as a result of what's been happening."
Sharpe says urban municipal leaders will be discussing a resolution at its fall convention asking for a third party review of EMS.
"We don't believe that's soon enough, and any further delay in resolving this issue is absolutely unacceptable," says Sharpe.
"Please plan to join us at the meeting and bring your friends and neighbors. We need to form a strong, resourceful team capable of solving this issue."
Town Councillor Marni Fedeyko is among those who have been speaking out on the issue and will be attending the meeting.
"I encourage all residents of Cochrane and area to come out and add their voices to this growing concern which not only affects our community but rural municipalities across the entire province," says Fedeyko.
"There will be personal stories, stories of emotion, and first responders from all occupational areas in attendance," she continues. "Let's stand united, and push the province and Alberta Health Services to acknowledge how dire this problem is, because at the end of the day, the longer we wait, the more people who simply will not make it to tomorrow."
The meeting starts at 6 p.m.