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New air ambulance in Nova Scotia transfers non-critical patients to Halifax for tests, treatments

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A new plane is transporting hundreds of non-critical patients to Halifax, saving time and keeping ambulances in their communities.

The Air Medical Transport Service (AMTS) was launched in August 2023 and transfers patients from Yarmouth and Sydney to the province's capital for tests and treatments.

"It was approved with the concept that we would be able to keep more ambulances in their home communities, saving the long transport times for paramedics and patients, (and) utilizing less resources," said Colin Flynn, senior manager with EHS LifeFlight.

According to Flynn, Nova Scotia's regular LifeFlight program consists of two helicopters, two fixed-wing aircrafts, two ground ambulances and now, the non-critical plane.

"This is a new fixed-wing plane that has been added to the program to accommodate these multi-patient transports," he explained.

The flight time in the new plane will take about an hour each way, compared to about five hours by ambulance.

The new plane can carry two to four patients per trip and makes three round trips per day.

"From August when we launched to current day, we've moved 852 patients and that has resulted in over 8,000 hours of ambulances back in communities where they can support local patient movements and 911 calls," said Flynn.

"Great benefit to our paramedics staff as well, where they are able to actually start and end their shifts in their home communities."

Loren Pearce is an advanced care paramedic who works in the new non-critical patient plane. He says not only is it helping paramedics on the ground but it's making a big difference for their patients as well.

"Everyone has such a positive experience. It sure beats the heck out of a five-hour drive from Sydney. It has made a tremendous difference," said Pearce.

"With patients able to get up in the morning, have their breakfast, jump on an aircraft, make it to Halifax and then be home for supper is definitely heartwarming," said Flynn.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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