BAIE VERTE, NL — If an audit of the province’s ambulance service does not identify an issue in the Baie Verte and Springdale areas, then it is not acceptable, according to Baie Verte Mayor Brandon Philpott.
The Nor’wester ran a story in its Jan. 26, 2017 edition highlighting residents’ outrage over the ambulance service provided by Central Health.
The belief is that the system used for some years now is inadequate for local needs.
Residents fear that, due to lack of resources, people could be put in danger or die because an ambulance cannot respond in a timely manner under certain scenarios.
According to Central Health, three ambulances are staffed at all times — one located at each health centre and one available to cover, as needed, if a facility-based ambulance is responding to a call.
According to reports, about 16 times a month — on average — an ambulance is stationed as a back-up at the halfway point between Baie Verte and Springdale.
This occurs between the regular 8 a.m.-8 p.m. shift the service operates.
The ambulance is stationed at the halfway point for an average of about four hours.
There are also community based ambulances in La Scie, Robert’s Arm and Triton, with a dispatch established for these services to be deployed in an emergency.
Shorty after the concerns were raised publicly, representatives of Central Health met with members of council and other people in the community.
Philpott said it appears nothing has changed nearly a year since.
Ambulance service remains one of the most talked-about concerns for the people of the Baie Verte Peninsula, according to the mayor.
“I don’t know what will come of (the provincial audit), but we are hoping it addresses our current concern with the service we currently we have,” he said.
Philpott reiterated the concerns previously addressed.
With two large active mines in the area, there is concern about the possible response time when an ambulance is parked at that halfway point as a backup.
He is also worried about emergencies with residents – especially with an aging population – and says the fear is greater for communities outside of Baie Verte, where the response time could increase from 40 minutes to well over an hour.
“How much longer is it going to take before somebody realizes we have a health authority essentially playing with people’s lives,” he said.
Central Health previously stated its model adheres to industry standards for hospital-based ambulance service and is in accordance with best practices for quality assurance.
Routine transfers are completed by a private ambulance service.
But Philpott said he has yet to see the policy or standards Central Health says it is abiding by.
He is hoping the audit leads to more answers and a resolve to the fear throughout the peninsula.
“If that audit is done, and they come out and say everything is great – that is just not acceptable anymore,” he said.
“If anybody tells me this is acceptable, or we have what we have – I just hope it is not one of their family members.
“It seems someone has to get hurt or worse, pass away before somebody really looks at this.”
With winter driving conditions underway again now, the mayor says the concern is even greater.