Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority Emergency Medical Services Division
Bonnyville Municipal Ambulance was formed on October 22, 1974 with an initial funding agreement between the Town of Bonnyville and the M.D. of Bonnyville. The EMS Service has operated from that point with no additional funding from the founding municipalities.
Bonnyville's first ambulance was a 1975 Chevrolet Suburban, which replaced an old hearse and sheriff's car that had been previously used. The ambulance was stored in the shop of a local business until the expansion of the fire hall on 47 Avenue by the Bonnyville Health Centre was completed.
A few years later the fire hall was relocated to 54 Avenue and the Bonnyville Municipal Ambulance expanded into the full building on 47 Avenue In 2005, the ambulance hall was expanded to meet the growing needs of the community and to house the local 911/Dispatch centre.
Today Bonnyville Municipal Ambulance has five ambulances, a paramedic response vehicle and a non-ambulatory transfer unit as well as a state of the art emergency services hall located near the Bonnyville Health Centre housing staff, ambulances, training centre and the regional 911 centre.
In 1981, future Mayor of Bonnyville Ray Prevost and Bonnyville Municipal Ambulance's first full time manager, became a Primary Care Paramedic, this allowed Bonnyville to provide Basic Life Support level of service to the community. In 1999, Joanne Lemieux, Bonnyville Municipal Ambulance's manager at that time, graduated as an Advanced Care Paramedic and Bonnyville Municipal Ambulance became the first northeastern Alberta rural service to provide Advanced Life Support to their community.
Throughout the 1980s and 90s BMA operated with a core of full time staff and a dedicated group of volunteers to provide Advanced Life Support/Basic Life Support levels to a service area covering 2,700 square miles from Glendon to Iron River on the west, LaCorey to Ardmore on the north and east, and Kehewin First Nation on the south, serving over 15,000 residents. Call volumes annually exceeded 1,200 calls per year.
As they entered the 2000s the call volume increased significantly and it was necessary to bring on more full time and part time staff to meet the needs. In 2008 the Province of Alberta took over the responsibility of delivering ambulance services from Municipalities and Bonnyville Municipal Ambulance became a contractor to the Province for providing EMS services in this area.
As the call volumes increased year over year to the current level of 2,800 per year or 7.57 calls per day, the ambulance service evolved to a full-time service but still has a dedicated local group of Primary Care Paramedics that, in addition to their regular jobs, work as casual employees to provide service to the public.
During the late 2000s the board of management for the Bonnyville Municipal Ambulance went through a complete reorganization that resulted in the two Municipalities acting as the board of management. In 2013 the Town and M.D. of Bonnyville agreed to transition the management and delivery of EMS services from the staff of the two municipalities to the staff of the Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority and the Authorities Board of Directors.
The current EMS Division of the Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority is comprised of Alicia Stone, Deputy Chief of EMS, Ken Hesson, Assistant Deputy Chief of EMS, Natasha George, Administrative Assistant and 40 fulltime and casual paramedics.
The current contract with the government of Alberta will be renegotiated in 2018 and the staff and management of the BRFA look forward to maintaining the high level of EMS services the people in the community have come to expect for many years to come.