Cross-bor­der am­bu­lance ser­vices may change

Stanstead Journal - - NEW BRIEFS - Vic­to­ria Vanier Derby Line, VT

Amer­i­can am­bu­lance ser­vices are tak­ing a sec­ond look at how they pro­vide cross-bor­der am­bu­lance ser­vices in the bor­der re­gion. In the past, lo­cal Amer­i­can am­bu­lance ser­vices have trans­ported pa­tients across the bor­der, ei­ther trans­fer­ring vis­it­ing Cana­di­ans from an Amer­i­can hos­pi­tal, where they were ini­tially treated, to a Cana­dian hos­pi­tal for fur­ther treat­ment, or trans­port­ing Amer­i­can pa­tients back into the United States.

Cana­dian am­bu­lance ser­vices, as a rule, don’t cross into the United States.

How­ever, re­cently, am­bu­lance teams have faced lengthy de­lays and “has­sles” while try­ing to cross back into the United States. “The mu­tual aid is hold­ing, but there have been trou­bles, mainly get- ting back into the United States al­though we’ve been talked to on both sides now. One of our guys was de­layed for around twenty min­utes be­cause of a faulty chip in his en­hanced driver’s li­cense,” ex­plained Mike Par­ody, the head of New­port Am­bu­lance Ser­vice.

“Derby Line Am­bu­lance used to go back and forth with­out any prob­lems; they knew us. But now, even if the lights and sirens are go­ing, they might search the ve­hi­cle,” said As­sis­tant Chief, Brian Berry, whose been with the Derby Line Am­bu­lance Ser­vice for ten years. “Not ev­ery­one has a pass­port or the new ID so it’s get­ting a lot harder to do trans­fers. Last week, the New­port hos­pi­tal wanted to trans­fer a pa­tient to Mon­treal and the Mis­sisquoi Am­bu­lance Ser­vice re­fused, New­port re­fused, they called us and we said no. Mis­sisquoi ended up go­ing the next morn­ing,” added Mr. Berry.

Mr. Berry was quick to men­tion that the strain is with the United States Cus­toms and Bor­der Ser­vices, not with the Amer­i­can Bor­der Pa­trol. “I like hav­ing the Bor­der Pa­trol guys around. They check on us when we’re on a call way out in the boon­docks and they some­times help us carry out pa­tients. They help us a lot,” he said.

The is­sue of bor­der de­lays for am­bu­lance per­son­nel was brought up at last Wed­nes­day’s Emer­gency Med­i­cal Ser­vices district board meet­ing. “We dis­cussed about get­ting the en­hanced li­censes for our em­ploy­ees, but that is costly (there are forty mem­bers on the New­port Am­bu­lance squad). There are also legal con­cerns that we’re work­ing on, li­a­bil­ity and li­cens­ing is­sues. We need to look into it fur­ther to see what the prob­lems are,” said Mr. Par­ody, adding: “Our main concern is that pa­tients get taken care of.”

Both Derby Line Am­bu­lance and New­port Am­bu­lance are asked to trans­fer pa­tients into Canada only a few times a year. Mis­sisquoi Am­bu­lance Ser­vice, which serves the Jay Peak area, is also asked to trans­fer pa­tients into Canada sev­eral times a year.

When Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion was asked to com­ment on the de­lays, they sent this re­ply: “Man­age­ment from Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion (CBP) in Ver­mont meets with emer­gency ser­vice com­pa­nies along the North­ern Bor­der in New Eng­land an­nu­ally to dis­cuss the fa­cil­i­ta­tion and ex­pe­di­tious pro­cess­ing of their emer­gency ve­hi­cles. CBP and the emer­gency trans­port stake­hold­ers have built a pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ship to as­sure that both our needs are met and the safety of the cit­i­zens along the bor­der cross­ings are a pri­or­ity. We are not aware of any de­lays con­cern­ing emer­gency trans­port ve­hi­cles.” Theodore Woo, the Pub­lic Af­fairs

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