Thunder Bay

Ornge hiring paramedics for Thunder Bay helicopter

Ornge air ambulance service has announced a plan to increase staffing levels at its base in Thunder Bay.

New hires will make up third team of paramedics at Thunder Bay Ornge base

Ornge air ambulance service has announced it will hire a third paramedic crew for its Thunder Bay base.

Dr. Andrew McCallum, president and CEO of Ornge, made the announcement at a meeting with Ornge staff in Thunder Bay on Wednesday night and released the news publically on Thursday.

The Ornge air ambulance service in Thunder Bay will see a third team of paramedics added to the base. They will be dedicated to the operation's helicopter. (Ornge)

The change means each of the three Ornge aircraft  -- two airplanes and a helicopter -- will have its own dedicated crew of paramedics, supporting 24/7 operations in Thunder Bay.

"The new paramedic shift will allow (Ornge) to improve our ability to respond on-scene with our helicopter, while continuing to meet the need for long-distance transports with our airplanes," McCallum said.

Ornge has yet to post the positions and hire the new crew. McCallum told CBC News he expects it may take several months to hire and train the paramedics.

Last October, CBC News reported that Ornge’s helicopter was grounded about a quarter of the time because no paramedics were available.

The Progressive Conservative critic for transportation and infrastructure, Frank Klees, called on the government to improve staffing levels to ensure people in northern Ontario — and elsewhere in the province — can count on the emergency service being available when needed.

Ornge said, at the time, that it was working to resolve the issue.