Thursday, May 23, 2024

No ambulance cuts planned for Country Harbour, EHS says

Council concerned with reduction in staff

  • May 8 2024
  • By Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter    

COUNTRY HARBOUR — Despite worries raised at Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) council last week, there’s no scheme to permanently cut back the Emergency Health Services (EHS) base in Country Harbour, a provincial spokesperson told The Journal last week.

“There are currently no plans to move any ambulance resources out of the Country Harbour station,”said Remo Zaccagna, a senior communications specialist with EHS – speaking on behalf of Charbel Daniel, the Executive Director of Provincial Operations at EHS – in an email on Friday, May 3. “We are constantly reviewing the system to meet evolving demands and ensure optimal coverage in communities across Nova Scotia, including in Guysborough County.”

The issue arose during the MODG’s committee of the whole (COW) two days before, when councillors expressed concern about the base’s viability after learning that its staff has been temporarily reduced to three, from eight.

“We were just made aware of the situation,” Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Shawn Andrews told the COW. “They have ... redistributed the staff to other bases in the local area ... Sometimes, temporary turns into a longer duration. [This is] brought here for council to see if they want to address the issue further [with] the higher ups at EHS.”

The news prompted Deputy Warden Janet Peitzsche to comment: “My thoughts on that is that we don’t want to lose what we have. We have that eight-person base; let’s try to keep it. Whether we have to send a letter, or call, or whatever... I’ll support [a move] for that base to remain open.”

Other councillors also noted that temporarily reassigning emergency staff could cause a slippery slope in a part of the municipality where ambulance response times can be already as much as 50 or 60 minutes.

Regarding the number of crew or personnel, full-time or part-time, normally assigned to the Country Harbour base, Zaccagna said, “Our staffing levels are dynamic, and we adjust those based on operational requirements. The intent is to have these ambulances operational 24/7.”

He added: “In the EHS system, paramedic crews start and end their shift at their stations but move around frequently to provide optimal community coverage based on current and anticipated call volumes and locations. This means that paramedic crews are often mobile responding to calls, providing community coverage and moving back to their station.”

In an email to The Journal on May 6, however, MODG Warden Pitts noted: “Historically, in rural areas over the years, we have to realize that when there is talk or rumours of this nature there is usually a speck of truth. Where there’s smoke there’s usually fire. Council will be writing the appropriate parties to voice our concerns.”


EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was modified from its original version on May 9, 2024 to clarify that Remo Zaccagna of EHS was speaking on behalf of Charbel Daniel, the Executive Director of Provincial Operations at EHS.