Residents of Grand Manan are frustrated when a military helicopter is called again to transport them to the hospital
Another military helicopter has been called to transport a patient from Grand Manan, NB, as the island continues to grapple with the loss of its local air ambulance service.
A Cormorant helicopter from Nova Scotia’s CFB Greenwood was dispatched to the island late Friday afternoon to transport a patient to Saint John Regional Hospital, according to the Joint Rescue Coordination Center Halifax.
The request for assistance came from Ambulance NB, which operates an air ambulance service but was unable to respond due to weather conditions.
“Both ANB’s Air Ambulance and Nova Scotia’s EHS LifeFlight were available but were unable to fly to Grand Manan and/or Saint John due to weather restrictions prohibiting the use of either aircraft,” said Christianna Williston, a spokeswoman for Ambulance NB, in an email.
This is at least the second time a military helicopter has been called to transport a patient since Atlantic Charters, the Grand Manan-based company that normally provides air ambulance services on the island, was forced to suspend service last year due to contract issues.
Changes in Transport Canada regulations require Atlantic Charters to increase its fleet of pilots in order to continue offering the service.
Ambulance NB and Atlantic Charters have negotiated a new deal to save the service while the province has requested an exemption from Transport Canada.
Williston said that “discussions are ongoing regarding the need for air ambulances in Grand Manan.”
CBC News has reached out to Atlantic Charters and the province but has received no response.
Bill Burns was able to see the helicopter up close as it landed on the street next to his home in Pettes Cove.
Burns said he had no information about the emergency, which required a medical evacuation, or why the helicopter had to land on the street rather than at the nearby airport.
But he said there was growing concern on the island about the island’s lack of an emergency medical service.
The ferry to the mainland takes a few hours, and that’s only if it runs when an emergency arises.
Meanwhile, any attempt to leave the island in an emergency means having to fly a plane to the island first, which takes more time than just having a plane ready to take off.
“It’s frustrating for people here in the community when we have our own air ambulance service here on the ground that is more than willing to do this,” Burns said.
Burns said the troubles with Medevac are even harder to bear given what else the island has been losing of late.
“They lost their bank, they’ve lost a lot of stuff here lately,” Burns said.
“It’s like every time we turn around, we lose something.”