Air ambulance tender awarded
The provincial government announced Friday it has awarded a tender for a fixed-wing air ambulance to Provincial Airlines.
Outside the House of Assembly Friday, Health Minister Jerome Kennedy said the jet will be used for quick medical transport, especially out of the province. The aircraft will also be backup for the two provincial air ambulances stationed in St. John’s and Happy Valley-Goose Bay, when one is unavailable.
“ We feel this is a significant enhancement to our air ambulance service,” said Kennedy, adding the jet will be able to fly from St. John’s to Toronto in less than three hours. “ The out-ofprovince patients are usually children that require cardiac care, patients requiring transplants, and so now they will not have to stop in Halifax, for example, and refuel, which our King Air normally has to do.”
The contract — Provincial Airlines beat one other bid for the tender — is for one year, and will cost $92,000 a month in a retainer fee plus “other related costs,” according to a press release from the province. The current charter service meant to be replaced by the new contract carries a retainer fee of $91,000 a month, but doesn’t have the ability to fly long distances without refuelling.
The airplane won’t be able to land at any of the coastal Labrador communities, but Kennedy said the Sea Kings aren’t able to either, and rural Newfoundlanders have had its air-ambulance service improved with the moving of an air ambulance from St. Anthony to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, a move that drew criticism from St. Anthony.
“ This is not about the quality of discontent in St. Anthony. This is about further enhancing of air ambulance service that I indicated in the House (of Assembly) on numerous occasions I would do,” he said. “ There was never any intention for the jet or the King Airs to go into the small coastal communities.”
Kennedy said he has “numerous letters” of support from moving the air ambulance from St. Anthony to Happy ValleyGoose Bay.
“ Now all communities are within 60 minutes of an air ambulance within this province,” he said.
The province’s seeking of a tender drew criticism late last week from the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees. Ed Hogan, employee relations officer for the association, said privatizing the service would be “absolute foolishness.”
“If this is what they’re doing, it’s absolute foolishness. It’d be devastating,” he told the Northern Pen in St. Anthony. “ We represent the pilots, the co-pilots, the ground crew (at Eastern Health), and I can tell you right now they’ll be adversely affected by this, and the rippling effect will probably go down to the paramedics that fly with the patients.”