Thursday April 19 I spoke, in a Members Statement, on emergency medical services in rural Manitoba and the need to revisit the current plan to geo-position ambulances away from communities. My comments are on video at this link, or in text from Hansard below:
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, I rise to talk about the government's approach to geo-positioning ambulances at sites which are far away from the communities they serve.
The government's approach would have paramedics and ambulances positioned around the clock at what are called geo-positioned sites derived from a computer. These sites are often a considerable distance from any community and where population density is low. While paramedics are positioned at these sites they are waiting for emergency calls, but are not able to contribute in other ways to health care because they are some distance from any community.
The alternative, Madam Speaker, is exemplified by the situations in Boissevain and Grandview. Here, close to the highest local population density and, in particular, the highest density of seniors who are the most likely to need an ambulance for heart attacks or strokes, paramedics are stationed in the community. Because the ambulance station is within or close to the hospital complex, paramedics contribute to care within the hospital when there's not an emergency call for them to attend. This is helpful and adds to the quality of health care that's available. Average ambulance response times are quick. I'm told it is only six minutes in Boissevain. I'm also told having the paramedics and ambulances on call and available during the night in town works well in Boissevain.
I ask the government to do what Reg Toews suggested in his report: complete a full consultation with people before committing to implementing the geo-positioning system. It may work well for Nova Scotia, but may not be optimum for health care in Manitoba.