The Air Ambulance Group for Central Newfoundland and Burin Peninsula, Canada, have recently appealed to the local government to open a medical team base in Gander, as current methods of emergency transportation, sometimes via ferry, is costing taxpayers millions of dollars.
Eugene Nippard, Chair of the air ambulance committee, spoke on behalf of the Group – made up of representatives from over 15 communities from across central Newfoundland, the northeast coast and the south coast, including the Burin Peninsula – emphasising the general frustration felt as a result of the Government’s lack of action regarding the issue. He said: “If there is a late emergency, it takes hours instead of minutes to get to the site. That just doesn’t make sense. We need to use the air ambulance instead of the ferry, as that just messes up the schedule. If those pilots of the ships have to go out, they need a proper rest period.”
His comments come after a year of back-and-forth communication between both the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Air Ambulance Group for Central Newfoundland and Burin Peninsula. Nippard added that he was unsure why it was taking so long to see any actions, as both Minister for Health and MHA for Gander District John Haggie and Minister of Transportation and Works Steve Crocker have stated on multiple occasions that they are in favour of the proposed Gander base.
Patrick White, President and CEO of EVAS Air, who helped organise a meeting on the subject in Gander on Friday 2 March, said at the time that a supplemental air medical service in Gander would cut down on response time by 30 minutes for patients throughout central Newfoundland, the northeast coast and Bay d’Espoir area and other communities.
Nippard has also voiced concerns that the committee might be being overruled in their efforts to instate the base in Gander, and worried that the focus might not be on the benefit of people who require the critical service, as it should be.
“There is another meeting set for 2 May. We are not sure what we are going to do, but if there are still no answers, we will demonstrate,” Nippard recently said. “There has been a request for proposal ongoing since 2017. That proposal is there, they just aren’t moving on it. They have more flexibility and it is supposed to get done.”