Shared ambulance model not working
Under the current shared ambulance policy between the Baie Verte Peninsula Health Centre and Green Bay Health Centre in Springdale, when the Green Bay ambulance staff is on a required resting period, the two Baie Verte ambulance staff are stationed at a “middle ground” location of Baie Verte Junction, located between the towns of Baie Verte and Springdale.
According to Traci Foss, regional program director for emergency and medical services with Central Health, this shared ambulance model has been in place for Baie Verte and Springdale since 2013.
“This shared service was initiated to increase Central Health’s capacity to respond to emergency transfers,” Foss said. “The previous model allowed for only one ambulance in Springdale and one in Baie Verte. An ambulance does need to be stationed at the Junction at certain times to increase our ability to respond.”
However, because the only two persons on staff for the Baie Verte Peninsula Health Centre’s ambulance service were at the Baie Verte Junction location, the ambulance sitting in the parking lot of the health centre was unstaffed and not available at the time of Anaconda Mining incident.
As previously reported in The Nor’wester, Baie Verte Mayor Brandon Philpott and the town have been fighting for over two years to have a stronger ambulance presence in the area. With this most recent incident at the Anaconda Mining site, Philpott says the town’s long-standing issues with ambulance services have reached a “boiling point”.
“You need two staff in the ambulance in order to dispatch. Springdale is supposed to have three paramedic staff and we are supposed to have three,” said Philpott. “We lack that third staff person. They’ve got one position posted but it’s an on-call position they can’t get anyone to take.
“No one’s going to want to move to a remote area like Baie Verte for an on-call position.”
Philpott hopes this job will be reposted as a full-time position to increase the likelihood of it being filled. He says for such a large coverage area across the Baie Verte Peninsula, the current ambulance staff and policy is not suitable.
“An hour response time is the minimum wait for us now, and we’ve got the industrial mines here,” he said. “We’ve been fighting this for a while and this will be the boiling point. I think the government officials are going to listen now.”
Foss did not say specifically if any changes in the current ambulance model for the area will result from this incident, but she says there will be additional consultations with the communities and provincial government because of it.
“As with any situation that arises with our services, we always reach out and engage in conversations,” she said. “There’s always opportunities to improve and we will look at how we can improve on this service and how our community partners can work with us.”