Ambulance New Brunswick is again defending its air service to Grand Manan after a woman says her father-in-law waited almost three hours for an air ambulance following a heart attack last week.
Gina Urquhart said her father-in-law survived his heart attack, but she’s worried someone else may die unless the air ambulance service to the island is improved.
She said someone from the Grand Manan Hospital requested an air ambulance at around 3 p.m. and it took nearly three hours to be transferred.
"I was thinking, 'Where in the hell is this plane, and when in the hell is it going to get here?,’" she said.
Urquhart said she wants to know why Atlantic Charter, which has a contract to provide air ambulance service for low-risk transfers and is stationed on the island, wasn't dispatched to take her father-in-law to the Saint John Regional Hospital.
"It just makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, when we have a perfectly-equipped plane which has served us for years," she said.
"I just want to see them get together and figure this out before someone else loses a life," she added.
Alan Stephen, the chief executive officer of Ambulance New Brunswick, said Atlantic Charter cannot provide critical care while in flight so the local company can only provide travel to low-risk patients.
"If a patient turns south, or gets worse in the air, the doctor needs to be assured that they've got the right equipment, the right level of care, to help that patient," he said.
"And although it's only a short 20, 25-minute [trip] across the body of water to Saint John, a lot can happen."
This is not the first time that Ambulance New Brunswick has been criticized for its service to Grand Manan.
In September, the family of Vic Hornjak complained that he waited for two hours for an Ambulance New Brunswick plane that ended up being unable to land due to weather conditions before Atlantic Charter was called.
Sheila Hornjak said she was worried her husband could have died because of the delay.
On July 8, Marjorie Stanley, 86, died of a second heart attack while waiting four hours for air transport from Grand Manan to Saint John.
Her death came a week after the Atlantic Charter’s contract with Ambulance New Brunswick to transport patients off of Grand Manan expired.
In August, the two sides reached a new, three-year deal that covered air transfers.