CBN lead­ers concerned with am­bu­lance ser­vice re­sponse times

The Western Star - - CLOSE TO HOME -

CON­CEP­TION BAY NORTH, N.L. — Am­bu­lance re­sponse times have been a con­cern in Con­cep­tion Bay North the last few months and lo­cal po­lit­i­cal lead­ers say they want some­thing done.

Glen Clarke, chair of the CBN Joint Coun­cil, said mem­bers have heard con­cerns from peo­ple about the is­sue and the joint coun­cil is now wor­ried too.

“There are go­ing to be ex­cep­tions and we un­der­stand that but there have been nu­mer­ous in­stances where it had been re­ported, both to me per­son­ally and other elected of­fi­cials,” he said. “There have been in­stances where peo­ple have had strokes and we know the first five or 10 min­utes is crit­i­cal to get med­i­cal at­ten­tion.”

The pre­vi­ous am­bu­lance provider in the area, Moore’s Am­bu­lance, had its con­tract ter­mi­nated in March. Few de­tails were made public about the ter­mi­na­tion. The prov­ince then signed a deal with Fewer’s Am­bu­lance Ser­vice. The Clarenvill­e-based busi­ness cur­rently holds sim­i­lar con­tracts in other parts of the prov­ince.

The joint coun­cil sent a let­ter to Health and Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Min­is­ter John Hag­gie on Sept. 30 re­quest­ing a meet­ing. The coun­cil got a re­ply Oct. 17, the day af­ter SaltWire con­tacted the depart­ment for com­ment. They would not share the con­tents of the re­ply, as it had not yet gone be­fore the coun­cil for dis­cus­sion.

Clarke him­self had a med­i­cal emer­gency at his home in Vic­to­ria a few months ago and his wife called an am­bu­lance. He says It took 45 min­utes for the am­bu­lance to ar­rive.

“When they ar­rived I said, ‘Boys, did you guys have to come from Hal­i­fax?’" re­called Clarke.

He ad­mits to be­ing face­tious, but when first re­spon­ders said they had to come from Avon­dale, which is about 63 kilo­me­tres away from Vic­to­ria, he was sur­prised.

"That’s a bit much,” said Clarke.

It’s un­der­stand­able, he ac­knowl­edged, if all the am­bu­lances in the area are tied up and re­sponses are de­layed, but it ap­pears to be hap­pen­ing too fre­quently.

MHA RE­SPONDS

The let­ter to health min­is­ter was sent af­ter a joint coun­cil meet­ing held Sept. 26, dur­ing which nu­mer­ous con­cerns were ex­pressed.

Pam Par­sons, the Lib­eral MHA for the district of Har­bour Grace-Port-de-Grave, was at that meet­ing.

Par­sons reached out to SaltWire on Oct. 16 to say she had been in con­tact with the am­bu­lance provider af­ter the is­sue was brought to her at­ten­tion by mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers, vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers and res­i­dents in her district.

Par­sons says it is her un­der­stand­ing that Fewer’s Am­bu­lance had been awarded the con­tract for the area.

"From what I am told following up on the process, the com­pany has ap­plied to dis­patch two am­bu­lances from Bay Roberts,” said Par­sons.

She says she has also been in con­tact with health min­is­ter Hag­gie and the premier's of­fice and hopes the is­sue will be re­solved soon.

MORE AM­BU­LANCES NEEDED

Phillip Wood, the mayor of Bay Roberts, echoed Clarke’s con­cerns about re­sponse times. He said two spe­cific in­ci­dents were brought to his at­ten­tion which prompted him to reach out to the min­is­ter in Septem­ber.

Ini­tially, he said, he tried to ex­press his con­cerns to Bob Fewer, the owner of the am­bu­lance ser­vice.

“I guess I pressed him for answers and he de­cided he wasn’t do­ing to deal with me any­more,” Wood said of his dis­cus­sion. “He ad­vised me I could deal with the min­is­ter of Health.”

He was un­aware Fewer’s

Am­bu­lance Ser­vice was hop­ing to bring two am­bu­lances to Bay Roberts but wel­comes the news.

Right now, am­bu­lances dis­patched to Bay Roberts come from Spa­niards Bay, Clarkes Beach or Har­bour Grace, Wood said, stress­ing are all needed for the com­mu­ni­ties they serve.

“We’re not af­ter any­one else’s am­bu­lance, we’re not af­ter that,” he said. “All we’re say­ing is that Bay Roberts, based on a num­ber of fac­tors, we re­quire an am­bu­lance sit­u­ated within the town.”

Woods said Bay Roberts, the largest mu­nic­i­pal­ity in CBN, has been try­ing for years to get an am­bu­lance sit­u­ated there. The town wrote the min­is­ter about this in March.

SaltWire made sev­eral at­tempts to con­tact Bob Fewer of Fewer's Am­bu­lance for com­ment but did not re­ceive a re­ply as of dead­line.

Health Min­is­ter John Hag­gie was not avail­able for a telephone in­ter­view ei­ther but emailed a state­ment to SaltWire. That state­ment said the depart­ment is in dis­cus­sions with road am­bu­lance op­er­a­tors across the prov­ince, in­clud­ing Fewer’s, and those dis­cus­sions are on­go­ing.

FILE/SALTWIRE NET­WORK

Phillip Wood, the mayor of Bay Roberts, is concerned about am­bu­lance re­sponse times in the area.

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