Red tape keeps defibrillators out of ambulances

More than $200,000 of life-saving equipment is sitting idle as ambulance operators and the province debate the liability of the machines.

More than $200,000 of life-saving equipment is sitting idle as ambulance operators and the province debate the liability of the machines.

The province purchased some 200 portable defibrillators -- one for every ambulance in the province -- in 2009 for use in private ambulances, but the operators were not comfortable with the conditions the province had set out concerning money and liability.

And now bureaucratic red tape is keeping the life-saving heart equipment out of the ambulances. This is a concern for the operators, and the company that sold the equipment, who say the equipment has a short life cycle.

"I'd say, these machines, another year or two they're probably outdated," said Wade Smith of the Private Ambulance Operators Association. "The batteries probably got one or two years of life left. The defibrillator pads have a gel on them and that deteriorates over time. So, I'd say they're probably only good for another year, year and a half."

The Ministry of Health told the CBC late Monday it hopes the issue would soon be sorted out.