The provincial government is rejecting a call to replace helicopters used to transport medical patients in Newfoundland and Labrador with large, multi-engine helicopters.

On Monday, the union representing emergency medical workers said the single-engine, Bell 206 now being used is too small to do the job.

The Association of Allied Health Professionals suggested the province should acquire a larger helicopter, such as the ones used for offshore transportation and search and rescue.

Tuesday morning, Health Minister Susan Sullivan said there are no plans to buy large, multi-engine helicopters – such as the Cormorants the Canadian military uses or the Sikorsky S-92A used for offshore transportation and search and rescue –  for medical transportation.

Sullivan said the government has addressed concerns about the Bell 206 helicopters by spending a quarter of a million dollars to retrofit a larger Bell 407 helicopter.

Sullivan said when it comes to assessing the safety of the helicopter, she trusts the opinion of Transport Canada.

The AAHP said the Bell 206 helicopters are so small that patients on stretchers have their feet in the cockpit and there is no place to put some equipment – except on top of a patient. The union said the chopper’s cabin is too small for medical staff to perform CPR on a patient.

Sullivan responded by saying the helicopters the province has paid to retrofit will give patients and medical staff more room.