Labrador passengers delayed 24 hours after not 1 but 2 medevacs

A woman from Labrador would like a see a dedicated aircraft for medevacs in her region, so service for other passengers would not be interrupted.

Woman from Labrador wants medevac flights to have a dedicated aircraft, and to not depend on other flights

Passengers aboard a recent flight from Happy Valley - Goose Bay to Nain faced more than 24 hours worth of delays, after their flight was pulled twice for two separate medevacs. (CBC)

A woman from Labrador would like a see a dedicated aircraft for medevacs in her region, so service for scheduled passengers would not be interrupted.

Ashley Edmunds said Labrador Health should consider chartering a dedicated aircraft for medical emergencies after a flight she was on needed to turn around for not one, but for two medevacs.

"It takes a lot for me to get on a plane anyway, and I was just frustrated," said Edmunds, who added she understands the urgency that a medical evacuation via aircraft requires.

Edmunds says there is a reason why she thinks medevacs need a separate aircraft.

Dedicated medevac plane needed

Ashley Edmunds wants Labrador Grenfell Health to use a dedicated plane for medevacs only, so passenger travel is not interrupted. (CBC)
What normally would have been about a 90-minute flight took more than 24 hours to reschedule and complete — including an unexpected night in Happy Valley-Goose Bay — for Edmunds and about 15 other passengers aboard what is called a "skedevac." The flight, also known as a mission plane, carries passengers who had booked travel in advance for medical reasons, such as doctors' appointments. 

On Friday, Aug. 22 the flight took off from Happy Valley-Goose Bay, bound for Nain, only to have to turn around for what would be the first of two medevacs. 

"There were people who were supposed to go back to work and they were worried about having to find someone to cover for them [because of the delay]," said Edmunds.

While at the airport in Happy Valley-Goose Bay Edmunds said they were informed over the speaker system that they would not be taking off again until the next day.

Edmunds knew that that was going to be a problem for her.

Ran out of medication needed to fly

"I had to fly without my medication because I only had enough to go on the one flight out and the one flight back, and I wasted it on Friday when we turned back," she said.

After leaving Happy Valley-Goose Bay the next day, the flight was again turned around to respond to a second medevac call out of that area.

"This felt like a ground hog day type of scene from the movie," said another passenger, Morral Blake.

"Some people were yelling, some people were asking the pilots questions out of frustration, some people were crying," said Edmunds.

"I actually considered staying in Goose Bay until the boat got there because I didn't want to do another flight," she said.

I actually considered staying in Goose Bay until the boat got there because I didn't want to do another flight,- Ashley Edmunds

After a delay of more than 24 hours — caused in part by the two medevacs — the passengers aboard the flight reached their destination just before 5 p.m. on Aug. 23.

In a response to a request from CBC News, Labrador Grenfell Health maintains that in both turnarounds, the flights had not reached the half-way point and because of this were called back to Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Board says both turnarounds within guidelines

"The Friday flight was 25 minutes north of Goose Bay when it was called back to do the medevac," Labrador Grenfell Health said in a statement.

Labrador Grenfell said they tried to get another flight out Friday, but that a second plane was not available. They said Friday's medevac was later "cancelled due to poor weather."

"The flight on Saturday was 38 minutes north of Goose Bay when the call was made to return to medevac," the statement said.

Labrador Grenfell Health said the flight to Nain takes about one hour and 20 minutes to make, and that on Saturday after the second medevac, they had passengers back in the air in an hour and a half.

Still Edmunds thinks the system needs improving.

"I would love to see a plane [solely for] medevacs, because the planes are always full [...] and I would love to see that more than anything for the health care system on [Labrador's] North coast," said Edmunds.

"We are owed explanations and we are owed apologies."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.