Shared am­bu­lance model not work­ing

The Central Voice - - News - BY KYLE GREEN­HAM Kyle.green­[email protected]­cen­tralvoice.ca

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.”

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