Am­bu­lance ser­vices at ‘boil­ing point’ in Baie Verte

Re­gional di­rec­tor says am­bu­lance re­sponse was com­pli­cated by telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion er­ror

The Central Voice - - Front Page - BY KYLE GREEN­HAM

Cen­tral Health says a de­layed am­bu­lance re­sponse to a min­ing ac­ci­dent in Baie Verte was caused by a telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion is­sue be­yond their con­trol.

On Satur­day, Dec. 1, as the town’s Santa Claus pa­rade was un­der­way, the RCMP and Baie Verte fire depart­ment were called to the town’s Ana­conda Min­ing site to at­tend to an in­dus­trial ac­ci­dent that re­sulted in one in­jury.

Baie Verte Mayor Bran­don Philpott says it took nearly an hour for an am­bu­lance to ar­rive on the scene.

Ac­cord­ing to Traci Foss, re­gional pro­gram di­rec­tor for emer­gency and med­i­cal ser­vices with Cen­tral Health, the Dec. 1 in­ci­dent was fur­ther com­pli­cated be­cause the Baie Verte Penin­sula Health Cen­tre was un­able to reach the am­bu­lance ser­vices in La Scie.

“When the call ac­tu­ally came in, (the Baie Verte Penin­sula Health Cen­tre) tried to con­nect with the am­bu­lance in La Scie to re­spond be­cause it was much closer to the mine than the Baie Verte Junc­tion,” Foss said.

“They could not reach the La Scie am­bu­lance due to these telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion is­sues and they pro­ceeded to reach out to the am­bu­lance sta­tioned at the Baie Verte Junc­tion.”

Ac­cord­ing to Philpott and Baie Verte Fire Chief Lorne Head, the fire depart­ment was called di­rectly by the Baie Verte Penin­sula Health Cen­tre to re­spond, know­ing that the am­bu­lance was an hour’s drive away in Baie Verte Junc­tion.

Once on scene, the fire depart­ment took the in­jured worker from the min­ing site, placed him on a back­board and brought him to an area to keep warm and wait for the am­bu­lance to ar­rive. It was an­other 45 min­utes of wait­ing be­fore it did.

“Our fire depart­ment went down there as first re­spon­ders and brought the young man that was in­jured to a spot where the am­bu­lance could eas­ily ac­cess him. Then they were wait­ing nearly an hour for the am­bu­lance to show,” Philpott said. “The fire­men should not be re­lied on as an emer­gency re­sponse, they don’t have the level of train­ing these paramedics do. For us to have two ac­tive mines, and an ac­tive mill, and to have this kind of ac­cess to am­bu­lance ser­vices is lu­di­crous.”

The dis­tance be­tween the Ana­conda Min­ing site in Baie Verte and the La Scie Med­i­cal Cen­tre is ap­prox­i­mately 52 kilo­me­tres. Philpott says the dis­tance from where the am­bu­lance is sta­tioned in Baie Verte Junc­tion to the town is 67 kilo­me­tres, and the rough roads make it about an hour’s drive. At a 52 kilo­me­tre dis­tance, Foss sus­pects it would have taken the La Scie am­bu­lance 25-30 min­utes to reach the mine site.

Gai­tane Villeneuve, di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Cen­tral Health, says these telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion is­sues were likely caused by weather-in­duced prob­lems with cell phone cov­er­age in the area.

Health and Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Min­is­ter John Hag­gie says Cen­tral Health is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the na­ture of the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions is­sue, but he has not yet been in­formed as to the ex­act cause of the prob­lem.

“Cen­tral Health, as far as I’m aware, are look­ing into it. If they are us­ing cell phone they are cer­tainly more vul­ner­a­ble to out­side in­flu­ence than a land­line,” said Hag­gie. “It’s ob­vi­ously a stress­ful sit­u­a­tion and cer­tainly less than ideal, but un­til the full cir­cum­stances are un­cov­ered it’s dif­fi­cult to rec­om­mend any reme­dies.”

In an emailed re­sponse from Lynn Ham­mond, vicepres­i­dent of pub­lic re­la­tions with Ana­conda Min­ing, the com­pany con­firmed that there was at an in­jury in­ci­dent at their Baie Verte site, and once the per­son was trans­ported to the hos­pi­tal, the in­juries were de­ter­mined to be mi­nor. The email states that the com­pany will be con­duct­ing a re­view re­gard­ing the in­ci­dent.

FILE PHOTO

This am­bu­lance sta­tioned at the Baie Verte Junc­tion took nearly an hour to ar­rive at an in­dus­trial ac­ci­dent at the Ana­conda Min­ing site in Baie Verte on Satur­day, Dec. 1. Ac­cord­ing to Traci Foss, re­gional pro­gram di­rec­tor for emer­gency and med­i­cal ser­vices with Cen­tral Health, the Dec. 1 in­ci­dent was fur­ther com­pli­cated be­cause the Baie Verte Penin­sula Health Cen­tre was un­able to make phone con­tact with the closer am­bu­lance ser­vice in La Scie.

FILE PHOTO

Baie Verte Mayor Bran­don Philpott says this most re­cent in­ci­dent at the Ana­conda Min­ing site has brought the town’s am­bu­lance ser­vices is­sue to a “boil­ing point”.

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