Being dubbed a crisis, the New Democrats demand to know why the Saskatchewan Health Authority could not dispatch an ambulance 216 times, including 43 no responses in the north.

The opposition, utilizing Freedom of Information documents, suggests ambulances were not available to many patients in need. “More than three dozen people needed help, but no ambulance was available. What does the Minister say to those 43 families in the North who called for an ambulance, but didn’t get one when they needed it,” asked Saskatoon Eastview Matt Love.

Data provided indicates that in 24 incidents an ambulance was not available in Buffalo Narrows. Other communities impacted by a shortage of ambulance services this year are: Beauval (5), Black Lake (4) Ile a la Crosse (4) and La Loche (6).  Buffalo Narrows came second in a lack of ambulance services, behind the City of Regina at 49.

“We do have some challenges within our system, but we’re continuing to work with our EMS providers to be able to make sure we can get our ambulances out of the hallways and back of the hospitals rolling to get to the patients needs,” said Health Minister Paul Merriman.

The NDP said the data is only for SHA provided service, predicting the number of people who could not access an ambulance could be much higher for communities serviced by private contractors, such as Saskatoon.

Rural and Remote Health Minister Everett Hindley said the province is making investments into the improved ambulance service. Last year, the province resumed its Rural EMS Re-Stabilization Program, which included parts of the North, aimed at addressing deficiencies.  Hindley explained that Beauval was successful in recruiting more EMS personnel, no longer requiring support from Buffalo Narrows.

(Photo courtesy of Watrous and District Ambulance Facebook.)