Weekend Riddled with Red Alerts, Short Staff, Offload Delays, and Slowed Response Times

For Immediate Release:

Monday, September 13, 2021

ST. JOHN’S, NL – Jerry Earle, President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE) is raising red flags about the state of our province’s paramedicine system in the wake of Hurricane Larry.

“I was inundated with calls and messages this weekend from concerned and frustrated paramedics,” said Earle. “On Friday, hours before a hurricane was about to make landfall, I was informed that the metro region was in red alert status (no ambulance readily available to respond to calls). Eastern Health confirmed that this was the case.”

“The calls and messages from paramedics came in steadily throughout the rest of weekend as they struggled to deal with a large number of priority calls and emergencies,” said Earle. “The people of the province need to know when a disaster strikes, that our systems are adequately staffed and resourced to handle the situation – sadly, that was not the case this past weekend with regards to our ambulance system.”

Some of the concerning situations raised this weekend by frontline workers were as follows:

  • multiple red alerts throughout Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in metro and into CBS and CBN;
  • approximately four (4) hours of red alert status time on Sunday, September 12 alone;
  • air ambulance arriving without ambulances readily available to transport patients;
  • lengthy (hours long) and multiple offload delays tying up several ambulances;
  • ambulances being called in from CBS and CBN to cover off on shortages in the metro and other regions (and having difficulty doing that while also dealing with increased call volumes in their own service areas);
  • a standby unit had to be pulled from a potentially serious situation to respond to a motor vehicle accident

“The public deserves to know the truth. For too long, this info has been hidden away. We can’t simply pretend it’s not happening and let frontline workers shoulder the burden of these situations over and over again in silence. We can’t pretend things are ok when they are not,” said Earle. “Paramedics have asked their union to speak out on the situation this weekend out of sheer desperation and in the hopes that it will lead to the change that is so desperately needed.”

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