Doctors from northern Alberta are calling on the province to delay moving air ambulance flights out of City Centre Airport until a better solution can be found.
The Alberta government is moving the base to Edmonton International Airport on March 15th because the city is closing City Centre Airport to free the land for development.
But the doctors — who have organized as the Save Our Medevac Services Society — believe that moving the flight base south of Edmonton will create delays for critically ill or injured patients, which could result in more deaths.
Dr. Richard Birkill, medical director of the Lac La Biche Hospital, says patients can get to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton in 38 minutes. He says the transport time will double after March 15th.
"We know that we will be losing patients in the process," he said.
"We already lose patients and we see the patients that we lost because of time delays in the transport system."
Edmonton physician Dr. Kerry Pawluski says the city has yet to give one-year notice of the closure of the second and final runway at City Centre Airport.
He says the runway only takes up one-third of the land slated for development and will not interfere with current plans to expand NAIT and the LRT.
"Why not keep the runway with medevacs flying until that last third is even needed in the next 15 to 25 years?" he asked.
The doctors’ group expressed their concerns in a full page newspaper advertisement on Monday.
Health Minister Fred Horne said he was disappointed by the content of the ad.
"There is no evidence offered in the ad, there are no arguments presented," Horne said.
"And yet, the ad suggests to Albertans that they should be afraid of the result of the move of the medevac facility to the Edmonton International."
Horne said that he has no concerns about patient safety or the quality of care with the new medevac site.
He says travel time from Calgary International Airport to the Foothills Hospital is just over 30 minutes, the same as from Edmonton International to University of Alberta Hospital.