Steve Carey is certain that government attempts to cut ambulance costs in the province through a new contract with operators will result in a reduction of services.
Carey’s services include Tryco on the Northern Peninsula, Mackenzie’s Ambulance Service in Port aux Basques and the Codroy Valley and a service in Point Leamington. He also operates a service in Daniel’s Harbour.
Right now Carey has four emergency ambulances in Port aux Basques that are staffed 24-7 using government’s formula of 3.5 full-time equivalents per machine.
But the province wants to change that and class only one of those ambulances for emergencies. It would be staffed by four people and Carey would get $220,000 for it.
The other three machines would be designated as routine, with one staffed by 2.5 people that the province will pay Carey $135,000 to operate. The other two would be staffed by two people and he would get $110,000 for each of them.
Through the proposal the number of staff goes from 14 to 10.5.
“So automatically we eliminate four people and we still do the same number of calls,” said Carey.
The routine units would be staffed for eight to 12 hours a day, Monday to Friday. “And that’s it,” he said.
“In the nighttime we’ll have one emergency machine and on the weekends we’ll have one emergency machine.”
The routine machines, which he calls a fancy name for transfer service, will not be available outside their regular hours. So if he has to send his emergency vehicle to Corner Brook, a six- to eight- hour trip Carey questions: “Who the hell is going to do the next emerg call?”
Not only is Carey concerned with the what’s being proposed, he’s also getting frustrated by the amount of time its taking to get a new contract. The previous one expired two years ago.