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McFadyen says Tories would base helicopter air ambulance in Brandon

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Progressive Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen said in Brandon today a Tory government would base a helicopter air ambulance in the Wheat City.

The helicopter would cover western Manitoba while a second helicopter would be based in Winnipeg.

"A helicopter ambulance based in Brandon will provide a major boost to EMS services in the Westman region of Manitoba while we make progress on our long-term plans to restore health- care services to Brandon and Westman," McFadyen said in a release.

He said the deployment of a helicopter ambulance in Brandon would cost $5 million.

In July, the Selinger government said it was working with the Alberta-based Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS) to base a helicopter in Winnipeg.

The plan includes building a helicopter landing pad atop a new seven-storey, $39-million diagnostic imaging centre being built at Health Sciences Centre on William Avenue. Construction begins this summer; the facility will be completed in two years.

The province will spend $5 million to purchase a helicopter, which will initially ferry patients to Winnipeg airport to be taken by ground ambulance to hospital. The province estimates it will cost $1.5 million to $2 million a year to operate and staff it.

The province says the service could save 50 lives a year by transporting patients to hospital more quickly from rural areas.

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