New Brunswick

Grand Manan woman dies waiting for air ambulance

The death of a Grand Manan woman over the weekend is raising questions about air ambulance service in the small island community.

Liberal MLA calls for an investigation into Grand Manan woman's death

The death of a Grand Manan woman over the weekend is raising questions about air ambulance service in the small island community.

The woman died after waiting hours for medical transport to a hospital on the mainland.

The tragedy occurred more than a week after a contract between Ambulance New Brunswick and Atlantic Charter expired. Atlantic Charter had been transporting ill or injured people off the island for 30 years.

Liberal MLA Rick Doucet wants the Department of Health to investigate the events surrounding a Grand Manan woman's death on Saturday. (CBC)

Charlotte-The Isles Liberal MLA Rick Doucet said Grand Manan residents rely on having a medivac-equipped plane on the island and ready to go if needed.

"Under the old system, the ambulance would travel to the airport on Grand Manan, the plane would be right ready to go, and they'd transfer that person to Saint John very quickly," he said.

The contract between Ambulance New Brunswick and Atlantic Charter expired on July 1.

The Liberal MLA said the old system worked well for Grand Manan residents.

Patients now have to rely on the ferry, an AirCare plane stationed in Moncton that services the whole province or a helicopter in Nova Scotia.

On Saturday, the woman died after waiting almost four hours for the helicopter from Nova Scotia. A breakdown had left the aircraft in Moncton out of service for at least an hour.

Doucet said the woman suffered a heart attack and the call for the new air evacuation service happened at 9 a.m. The helicopter arrived after 1 p.m. the MLA said.

But Alan Stephen, the president of Ambulance New Brunswick, said this new system is in the best interest of patients.

"Regardless of the aircraft and where it's located, what we're looking at is the level of care that that patient needs to be transported. And that's the critical aspect of where we are," Stephen said.

Stephen said Atlantic Charter chose not to renew the contract.

The Grand Manan company, however, called the loss of the contract a "sad day" and a "degradation of a service" for the island's residents.

When the Atlantic Charter deal expired, Grand Manan village officials said they planned to meet with Health Minister Madeleine Dubé to discuss the loss of the air service on the island.

The Liberal MLA said the provincial government must launch an investigation into the Grand Manan woman's death. He said the provincial government should restore the previous air service contract.

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