N.B. ambulance response time failing rural communities: auditor general report
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Pressure is mounting on the New Brunswick government after the release of a critical report by the auditor general into the province’s ambulance service.
The report reveals that ambulance response times aren't as good as they may appear on paper, and that rural residents and paramedics have been paying the price.
The expected standard response time for ambulances in rural New Brunswick is 22 minutes or less.
But a recent report from New Brunswick Auditor General Kim Adair-MacPherson shows that, while that should be happening 90 per cent of the time, it often isn’t.
The report shows 19 of 67 communities were well below the 90 per cent required response time threshold.
The worst was Belledune, a community in northern New Brunswick, where the standard was met only 69 per cent of the time.
“In a lot of cases, what they will do is they take a sick person, put them in a vehicle, and drive them to the hospital, because they know the wait time for the ambulance is too long, which is completely wrong,” says Belledune Mayor Joe Noel.
Noel says he’s heard of people in the community waiting as long as 50 minutes for an ambulance.
“Last winter around Christmas, we had an accident here when a person was here laying in the middle of the road at -30 degrees, and an ambulance had to drive from Bathurst to pick the patient up,” recalls Noel.
Noel says that person ended up passing away, and while he can’t say it was because of the delay, he believes it certainly didn’t help.
The Paramedics Association of New Brunswick says the auditor general's report reaffirms what they have been saying for many years.
“This is just more evidence that the rural parts of the province are being sucked dry of resources in order to meet the contractual obligations of the urban centres, where the majority of the calls are,” says Chris Hood, executive director of the Paramedics Association of New Brunswick.
CTV News did reach out to Medavie for a response, but they declined an interview.