Need for a new ambulance also identified
Although the Ramea Fire Department is focused on fundraising primarily for its new pumper truck, a smaller emergency vehicle is also a necessity. Ramea has a small medical clinic staffed by a nurse-practitioner, but the only other emergency response personnel on the island are the firefighters.
There is no proper ambulance service per se, and the RCMP are stationed in Burgeo. Traditionally the fire department has always provided transport service for medical emergencies, although Gander will dispatch a helicopter should the situation warrant. However, as with most remote coastal communities, a helicopter transport is very much weather dependent.
In order to transport patients to and from the clinic, or to the ferry to Burgeo, the fire department uses a small emergency vehicle in lieu of an ambulance. Their current vehicle is 31 years old and in even worse shape than the fire truck.
“We can’t send it for inspection,” says Fire Chief Paul Green. “She won’t come back.”
The ambulance is no less important to Ramea than the fire truck. There are liability issues when it comes to transporting patients via a personal vehicle.
For the past two years Green has been making calls to provincial ambulance companies to see if Ramea can get a deal on a replacement vehicle. But even used emergency vehicles are expensive and hard to find, and there are other constraints beyond the financial to consider. “They had ambulances available, but they would have been a cube van and that’s no good for us because we can’t get it in our truck bay,” said Green. “So we need one of those van types or smaller box ones.”
The department has even toyed with the idea of buying an old cargo van and converting it. For now, Green will keep reaching out to see if an affordable, reliable replacement can be found, while the Rock Island Music Festival keeps on fundraising.