It’s been a busy Saturday and according to CBRM councilor Gordon MacDonald, paramedics are working through an ice storm short staffed.
“So I heard there were six ambulances out and five of them tied up at one time,” says MacDonald.
Macdonald is speaking out to support paramedics in the area and is concerned about residents who may need emergency care.
“Paramedics that were out last night are very thankful it was a quiet night. It was unusual they tell me for a Friday night. It seems like people wanted to stay home because of the storm they are usually out in droves,” MacDonald says,
The emergency department at the island’s largest hospital is the only one open in CBRM and has been for a while.
“The acute care center on the Northside has taken some pressure off of Baddeck, but it hasn’t taken any pressure off of the regional, so we’re still seeing pretty high patient volumes through the day,” says Dr. Margaret Fraser, a Cape Breton physician.
Dr. Margaret Fraser says a cluttered emergency room has a trickle-down effect and can slow and delay off-loading times for EHS.
She says not having enough ambulances is also concerning.
“We are frequently having delays in having patients transferred out to other sites and more importantly transferred to Halifax. Any patient that needs definitive treatment, who has had a heart attack and needs to go for a catheterization, a child that needs to be transferred to the IWK. We are sometimes seeing delays of 2 or 3 days in getting transport done,” says Fraser.
“They’re putting their lives in danger every day. They’re working on the frontlines of a pandemic and when they’re short staffed they have to work even harder,” says Michael Nickerson, a business agent for the union representing paramedics.
Nickerson says staffing issues continue to be a problem province wide.
“The employer and the government need to come up with some retention strategies,” says Nickerson.
In an email the Executive Director of EHS ground operations says there were five units out of service Friday night because of staffing pressures, but says EHS has long-standing policies and protocols in place to mitigate any effects from major storms.