"There were 782 calls for help ... [when no ambulances were available], 225 of which were considered high priority," says NAPE President Elect Jerry Earle. "These numbers are truly frightening.”
St. John's (28 April 2015) — The Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE/NUPGE) is voicing its concerns about increases in "red alerts" on the Northeast Avalon.
“'Red Alert' is the term used when there are no ambulances available to respond to calls,” said NAPE President Elect Jerry Earle. “We have learned that in the past year there has been a significant and troubling increase in these alerts. In 2012-13, there were 462 red alerts, from April 2014 to March 2015, there were 586 red alerts—an increase of 27 per cent in one year.”
“Not only was there an increase in the red alerts in the past year, but the situation gets worse the further you dig,” continued Earle. “In total, there were 12,522 minutes of red alert time in the past year. There were 782 calls for help during those red alerts, 225 of which were considered high priority. These numbers are truly frightening.”
"NAPE and the paramedics we represent have been demanding action to deal with this situation"
“When a matter of minutes can mean the difference between life and death, zero red alerts must be the ultimate goal,” stated Earle. “NAPE and the paramedics we represent have been demanding action to deal with this situation. To date, we have seen little to no tangible change, which has resulted in an increase in red alerts in the past year. This is unacceptable.”
In 2014, a private firm, Pomax Consulting, was hired by Eastern Health to conduct a review and provide recommendations about the Paramedicine and Medical Transport Program (PMT). While the review was anticipated to be completed and released earlier this year, it has yet to be released for unknown reasons.
Shortage of ambulance staff must be addressed
NAPE is calling on the Minister of Health and on Eastern Health to take action on the red alert situation by addressing the critical shortage of on-duty ambulances and paramedic staff at Eastern Health. NAPE is also requesting that the current review of the PMT be immediately released to the public.
“The public needs to know that there will always be an ambulance and paramedics ready to respond to emergency medical situations for them and their loved ones,” stated Earle. “The government and Eastern Health must take immediate action on this critical matter before a tragedy occurs.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE