Haines Junction lacks volunteers for ambulance service

Haines Junction, Yukon, is facing sporadic ambulance service this summer due to a shortage of volunteers.

Community without ambulance service many weekends in the summer

Cyclists race in the 2014 Kluane-Chilkat International bike relay from Haines Junction, Yukon, to Haines, Alaska, on Sat., June 21. (Elyn Jones/CBC)

Haines Junction, Yukon, is facing sporadic ambulance service this summer due to a shortage of volunteers.

Director of Yukon Emergency Medical Services Michael McKeage says, of all the communities, Haines Junction has the hardest time recruiting ambulance volunteers.

He says the community has been characteristically without ambulance service many weekends in the summer and it's been that way for a couple of years.

Mayor Mike Crawshay says Haines Junction needs to either adjust to the lack of ambulance service or do something about it,  

"We've kind of tapped out the volunteers that are willing to do that," he says.

Yukon EMS says it is considering providing the community with a couple of more radios which might help volunteers. It's also looking at how other communities recruit volunteers.

One serious injury during weekend cycling race

There was no ambulance service this past weekend in Haines Junction during the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay.

Race director Mike Kramer says he wasn't aware there wouldn't be ambulance service until just days before the race.

Also, at least one injured participant in the bike race was told the health centre in Haines Junction was closed, but that was not the case.

"All of our nursing stations are open Monday to Friday 8-5 and our nurses are on call after hours for emergencies," said Pat Living, department of health and social services. 

She says because of the large crowd, her department had a second nurse on call just in case.

"There was obviously a bit of a miscommunication about what different parties understood was available," said Kramer.

Kramer says there's room for improvement when it comes to making sure everyone is on the same page.

One of the cyclists in the race, a man from Haines, Alaska, was seriously injured when two bikes collided within the first 20 kilometres of the start of the race in Haines Junction.

Kramer says race organizers found out later that the injured cyclist was medevaced from Haines, Alaska to Juneau, and then on to Seattle, Wash.