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Grand Manan’s medevac service up in the air with new federal rules on the horizon


The arrival of updated rules for how long a pilot can fly or be on standby is putting the future of a New Brunswick island’s very own medevac service up in the air.

Atlantic Charters, a Grand Manan-based aircraft charter service, currently has an agreement with Ambulance New Brunswick to fly patients off the island for mainland emergency care.

New federal policies will start Monday for small and regional aircraft operators, regulating more rest and less flying time for pilots in a bid to address fatigue.

Discussions have been ongoing between Ambulance New Brunswick and Atlantic Charters to reach a new agreement under the new federal framework.

Neither Ambulance New Brunswick nor Atlantic Charters would provide any further comment on Monday, except to say there was nothing new to share.

If there is no agreement, air ambulance service to Grand Manan will be provided by Ambulance New Brunswick’s air medevac.

“I think there’s a lot of concern and a lot of worry about what that’s going to mean,” said Grand Manan Mayor Bonnie Morse, in an interview Monday. “We’ve seen that happen in the past. And there’s always a difference between having someone based here on the island and having another plane trying to come in and land. Because there is a time lag there.”

The Horizon Health Network says any patient who arrives at the Grand Manan Hospital requiring complex, specialized, or critical care is taken by ground or air ambulance to the Saint John Regional Hospital.

Morse said there’s already procedures in place to transport people off the island as soon as possible if they require urgent medical care.

“Right now, there is protocol where if you’re having a stroke you actually bypass the local hospital and are moved directly to Saint John,” said Morse.

“We need to make sure we have that same level of access to medical care.”

First announced in 2018, the federal regulations to address pilot fatigue came into effect for larger air carriers in 2020. Top Stories

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