Bridge closure renews call for alternate hospital access
Accident blocked traffic on Whitehorse's Riverdale bridge Tuesday
Concerns about there being only one point of access to Whitehorse General Hospital have arisen again after a traffic accident earlier this week closed the Robert Campbell Bridge.
Police closed the bridge Tuesday afternoon for about an hour after a vehicle crossed the centre line, hitting an oncoming vehicle. One of the drivers has been charged with driving without due care and attention.
The traffic backup in Riverdale caused plenty of frustration especially for parents trying to pick their kids up from daycare. Marco Paquet was one of them, but his frustration also brought up a painful memory.
"In 2010 we had an emergency where we lost our son up in Takhini," he says. "He choked on a piece of macaroni and it took nine minutes for the ambulance to arrive from Riverdale."
He's been lobbying the government to provide secondary access to the hospital since his son died. He points to the traffic jam as an example of why it's needed.
"If an ambulance would have had a patient in the back with major injuries or something of the sort they would not have been able to make it through," he says.
Community officials say they co-operate with bylaw services when the bridge is blocked to make sure a lane is left open so emergency vehicles can get through. They also say there is a back-up route at the hydro dam.
"If that bridge is blocked, we have a protocol in place with Yukon Energy that we can open access to their dam road and travel from one side of the river to the other," says Michael McKeage, director of Yukon Emergency Medical Services.
Officials also point out a new ambulance station opened in 2013, so if access is blocked at the hospital, they can deploy ambulances from the other side of town.
Paquet has started a petition to lobby the government to look into possible alternate road access routes to the hospital. He plans to present it to Minister of Community Services Brad Cathers.