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This article was published 10/7/2017 (831 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Cartier reeve Dale Fossay said he and council weren’t informed about the government’s decision to close the Emergency Medical Services station in Elie prior to the public announcement on June 29.
"I thought that we would have received some notice," he said, adding that council wasn’t directly consulted prior to the decision.
According to information from the provincial government, the decision to close the Elie station and 17 others identified as "low call-volume" EMS stations across Manitoba comes as a recommendation from the EMS Review Task Force struck in 2013. Along with the closures, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced 29.2 full-time equivalent, primary care paramedic positions to be located in Arborg, Ashern, Glenboro, Waterhen, Gladstone/Kinosota, Carman and Morris.
A statement from the provincial government said "extensive consultations with municipalities took place over the course of the work that went into the 2013 Manitoba EMS System Review. The report that followed these consultations was released in 2013. Decisions about the closures are based on data from the Medical Transportation Co-ordination Centre. Detailed capital planning will now begin and rural municipalities are welcomed to provide their comments as the process moves forward."
Fossay said the Elie station has operated for many years, first staffed by volunteers, but in the past few years two paramedics have worked there on a 24/7 basis. The municipality provides a heated garage for the ambulance and office space for the staff at no cost to the provincial government.
He said the Elie station isn’t experiencing low-call volume. Out of the current 20 EMS locations within Southern Health/Santé Sud, Cartier has ranked consistently as the 11th-busiest EMS station.
Information provided by the municipality shows that the Cartier EMS station received 221 calls between April 1, 2016 and Mar. 31, 2017, and an annual average of about 215 over a five-year period.
The provincial response time standard is 30 minutes. Fossay questions whether it will be possible to achieve this standard within Cartier when paramedics are coming from either the Oak Bluff or Portage la Prairie station.
"It depends on highway driving conditions, and the Trans-Canada Highway is closed as many as 10 times in a winter," he said.
He said he’s concerned that Cartier firefighters might have to assume more medical responsibility at accident scenes because of a longer response time for ambulance staff.
"We’ve written to our MLA Shannon Martin. We want to make our concerns known," he said.
Morris MLA Shannon Martin acknowledges Cartier council’s concerns but said, while there won’t be an EMS station in Elie, EMS service will be provided to Cartier residents through a system deploying ambulances to rural areas where they are most likely to be needed.
"Ambulances will be scattered throughout the area, with paramedics not just sitting at a station waiting for calls," he said, adding that the 29 new paramedic positions will help provide coverage for rural Manitoba.
According to a government source, the changes will be made gradually over the next few years and no date has been set for the Elie station closure.
Community journalist — The Headliner
Andrea Geary is the community journalist for The Headliner. Email her at email@example.com Call her at 204-697-7124