Paramedic, operator turned away from meeting

Diane Crocker dcrocker@thewesternstar.com
Published on January 30, 2013
Steve Carey, left, the owner Tryco Ambulance Service and Mackenzie’s Ambulance Service, and Adam Paisley, supervisor with Tryco Ambulance Service in Norris Point, wait outside the doors where a session was being held for paramedics in Corner Brook on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013.
Geraldine Brophy

CORNER BROOK — Adam Paisley and Steve Carey have some ideas on how the province’s ambulance system should work. At the top of their list is legislation that creates a standardized system.

Unfortunately, Paisley and Carey weren’t given the opportunity to share their ideas during a session held for paramedics as part of the province’s review of ambulance programs in Corner Brook on Tuesday.

That’s because Paisley is a supervisor with Tryco Ambulance Service in Norris Point, and Carey is the owner of Tryco and Mackenzie’s Ambulance Service. The two companies service communities from Port aux Basques to St. Anthony.

The meeting at Western Memorial Regional Hospital was facilitated by the Fitch-Helleur partnership, consultants hired by the province to conduct the review.

“They had issues in other parts of the island of operators trying to strong arm their employees, so they weren’t going to allow anybody in an operator, management, or a supervisor or advisory position to be in the meetings,” said Paisley of the explanation provided to him and Carey.

Paisley said the email inviting him to the session didn’t mention that supervisors would not be welcome, and he followed the appropriate links to sign up.

He was upset with being excluded because he wasn’t there to speak as a supervisor. He drove from Norris Point to speak for the crew there, to be the voice for their concerns with the present system that include wages, compensation, scheduling, equipment and health and safety standards.

“Right now there aren’t very many standards set for any of that,” he said.

He said, for example, ambulances used in this province are older than those used in other provinces.

“That’s what the government and that’s what the system is allowing us to do. And that’s where the changes need to come,” he said. “There needs to be legislation put into place that better governs on how the ambulance operators get their equipment.”

It’s not just ambulances, he added, but also stretchers, supplies and oxygen. He also said the lack of a 911 system and cellphone coverage in the area he serves are major issues that need to be addressed.

Carey agreed with much of what Paisley said, and understands where his employee is coming from.

“The system we have is a farce,” he said. “Paramedics are overworked and underpaid, and there is no consistency through how ambulances are funded in this province.”

Carey said the entire system needs to be overhauled, starting with an elimination of the three-tiered — hospital, private and community-based — system that currently exists.

Paisley said he was told the consultants would do a teleconference with him and other staff, but it would have been nice to know that he wouldn’t be allowed into the meeting. Still, both he and Carey planned to stick around the hospital until the meeting ended to try and add their thoughts to the review process.