Prompt action needed on ambulance recommendations

NDP Fire and Emergency Services Critic George Murphy

NDP Fire and Emergency Services critic George Murphy (MHA, St. John’s East) is hopeful government will act quickly in response to a consultant’s report on the provincial road ambulance system.

“The ambulance program review finally made public today has several good, solid recommendations – some of them are ones I, and my fellow caucus members, have been asking for for quite some time now,” Murphy said today.

“The minister says government is now planning stakeholder consultations on the recommendations with a view to taking action later this year or early in 2014. Consultation is obviously important but I hope it won’t get in the way of immediately starting to fix some the problems identified in the review. That could be interpreted as foot-dragging on government’s part, particularly considering the fact we were told today many of those involved were reluctant to speak to the consultants for fear of reprisals.

Murphy said the fact that this province does not have legislation covering emergency medical services could and should be addressed immediately. “I would like to see this vital legislation brought in when the House reopens in November,” he said.

He says action on some recommendations, such as the new regulatory agency, could start immediately. The central dispatch system could be up and working by September 2014, when the government has promised the province-wide 911 system will be established. “We need a province-wide 911 system and central dispatch in order for our emergency medical services to work properly,” said Murphy.

“More importantly, worker fatigue has to be addressed immediately, and we can’t wait three years to start addressing the huge inequities in wages and working hours in this sector. We will continue to lose paramedics to other provinces at an alarming rate.”

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