Late night medevac services for Fort Mac may be cut
Published Sunday, May 18, 2014 4:57PM MDT Last Updated Monday, May 19, 2014 5:13PM MDT
A medical helicopter in Fort McMurray will be suspended at the end of May unless they get more funding.
The president of Phoenix Heli-Flight told CTV News they have been acting as a medevac service for the area for over 20 years but have not been getting the support from industry or government they need to continue 24-hour operations.
Paul Spring said they made a proposal to industry and government about 18 months ago to increase service, which he said was met with enthusiasm at that time.
“We embarked on the program last June.
“Started doing night medevac service and then all those industry players and the government just didn’t come to the table.”
He said when it came time to foot the bill companies pointed their finger at the Alberta government.
“And the government is saying, 'Well it is not really our responsibility. We do certain parts of medical care but when they are employees it is not us.'
“There is a lot of finger pointing in both directions and we’ve come to a funding stalemate where industry won’t step up enough, with the exception of a couple of our good corporate clients, and government is just completely out there not talking to us.”
On Monday, CTV News confirmed that Alberta Health Services had been in touch with the company to schedule a meeting to discuss options.
Spring said the program has already cost the company $3 million.
“We issued a statement last week to all the stakeholders that we have been dealing with over the past year and a half saying, ‘We are not going to carry this anymore. We are done. We can’t. It is hurting our core business.’”
The company currently gets money on a fee-for-service basis, but Spring said that was not enough for them to provide a dedicated helicopter for medical services.
“We can’t provide dedicated night time service on a fee-for-service basis because the helicopter doesn’t generate any other revenues.
“Fee-for-service is fine because the helicopters generate other revenue doing normal, helicopter work. They are not specific aircraft just for medevac.”
He said that the company has already responded to 50 calls in the last five months. That is nearly double the calls they usually get.
Suncor and another oil company have been contributing 10 per cent of the annual operating budget.
According to Spring, they have received $800,000 via the fee-for-service agreement for their work so far.
“The indications are out there that they may support it in the future but right now we have just come to the end of our ability to financial fund this.”
Health Minister Fred Horne has not responded to CTV’s request for an interview.
With files from Amanda Anderson