Athabasca Advocate – October 31, 2017

Hannah Lawson

$3.1M EMS station complete in Wabasca; New four-bay station something the community “has been waiting a long time for”


Emergency Medical Services personnel in Wabasca/Desmarais are now operating out of a brand new $3.1-million station, completed this fall.

Dignitaries and community members gathered at the new four-bay station Oct. 12 for the centre’s grand opening.

“It’s going to have a positive impact,” said Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater MLA Colin Piquette in an interview. “What’s happened is previous to this, they had the one ambulance stationed out of the (healthcare centre) and the other one was stationed in another part of town.”

The new EMS station is right next to the Wabasca/Desmarais Healthcare Centre, and features “modern, comfortable lodgings” for EMS crews and a conference room.

Alberta Health minister Sarah Hoffman said in an AHS press release the facility’s completion “shows our commitment to providing high quality healthcare” in the province.

“The new station is something we know the community has been waiting a long time for. We are listening to their concerns as we work to make life better for families in Wabasca-Desmarais,” she said.

Marian Wolitski, who served on the Lesser Slake Lake Health Advisory Council until about three months ago, said members have “harped on” getting the new facility for years.

“I brought it up that it was required because they didn’t really have any place for the ambulance, and the staff really didn’t have any place to stay,” he said. “They stayed right in the hospital, in the rooms there.”

The former government did approve the project, but Wolitski said it was delayed for three years.

“When the new government came in they promised they would get it done, and they started construction last fall,” he said.

“It actually was a need, it wasn’t one of our wants. They had one ambulance staying outside. Of course in the winter that’s not the best, because you have to have the vehicle running 24 hours and seven days a week,” Wolitski said. “That created a few extra problems, if it stalled or anything like that, you’d have frozen drugs which they’d have to remove or replace them.”

Freed up space in the healthcare centre formerly used by EMS personnel is now being used to create a permanent area for occupational therapy and physiotherapy services, along with staff training, according to the EMS press release.

The project was funded through the Government of Alberta‘s Infrastructure Maintenance program. Local EMS staff have been operating out of the centre since the beginning of October.

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