Carnduff Ambulance Service has been short on staff for a long time. The public concerns keep coming up on social media and in private conversations, however, the citizens haven’t seen any changes for almost a decade.
The most recent concerns about the Carnduff ambulance’s ability to respond to calls in their service area in a timely manner were brought to attention by a member of the public who preferred to stay anonymous. They were worried that in case of a medical emergency in the area there is a high chance that help will come in too late.
Lifestyles reached out to the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) to find out what the current situation is.
“The SHA is committed to providing ambulance services to the communities it serves across the province in the most timely manner possible. (It) provides ambulance services in 107 communities in Saskatchewan. Many of these are lower call volume services, such as Carnduff,” said Lisa Thomson, who is a media relations consultant with SHA, in an email.
She added that recruitment and retention of EMS providers to these lower call volume centres continue to be a challenge that Carnduff along with other communities struggle with.
“Currently there is two staff available to serve Carnduff. Recruitment efforts to attract additional paramedics to Carnduff are ongoing,” said Thomson.
However, the SHA has a backup plan for smaller communities that don’t have enough staff at the moment.
“In smaller communities, there may be times when ambulance services do not have staff available for a specific shift. When this occurs, as part of the provincial response plan, neighbouring ambulance services provide coverage, and the next closest ambulance available is dispatched to the call,” noted Thomson.
Thus, for the community of Carnduff, the next closest ambulance service is located in Oxbow, which can respond in just over 20 minutes. But the Carnduff Ambulance Service, which is a one-unit service, provides basic life support for the towns of Gainsborough, Carievale, Carnduff and the surrounding municipalities.
So if Carnduff ambulance is out of service and Oxbow is responding, it leaves communities that rely on Carnduff with longer waiting times. In such a situation for Gainsborough, the minimal waiting time for professional medical help will be over half an hour.
“Why are industrial standards higher than our own communities?” wondered the member of the public, noting that under industrial standards, the medical help has to be available within a 30-minutes reach, which is currently not the case most of the time in the Carnduff area.
The response times may get even longer if Oxbow is busy and other neighbouring centres have to take the call.
According to the former Sun Country Health Region’s website, it provided ambulance service is provided in Estevan, Carnduff, Stoughton, Oxbow, Weyburn, Lampman, Pangman, Bengough, Coronach, Fillmore, Carlyle, Redvers, Maryfield, Wawota, Kipling and Radville. So for Carnduff, the next available services are Estevan, Carlyle or Redvers, for each of which the driving distance may significantly increase the response time that, in some situations, might be crucial.
The trained and certified medical first responders are also a resource the SHA relies on when the 911 calls come in.
“There are approximately 1,200 medical first responders in the province that are typically first on scene to assess and begin to stabilize the patient until the ambulance arrives. The SHA does have a number of MFRs located in the southeast area of the province,” said Thomson.
However, according to the concerned member of the public there are only a few of them available in the Carnduff area.
Thomson noted, “The SHA continues to work internally and with community leaders to improve services to rural and remote communities in the province.”
An online open job search conducted on Dec. 3 only resulted in a posting for EMT in Oxbow, but there were no mentions of any EMT openings in the Carnduff area. Although the SHA may be utilizing other options of recruiting, the Carnduff area citizens remain concerned since they don’t see either any advertisements put out by the SHA or any results of their efforts.