Ambulance New Brunswick is launching a pilot project and adding more a handful of vehicles to its fleet, in an effort to reduce response times in rural communities.
Five rural communities — Minto/Chipman; Grand Bay-Westfield; Saint-Quentin/Kedgwick; the Acadian Peninsula and Blackville — will each have a new Rapid Response Unit (RRU).
“We’ll have two or three, multiple calls back-to-back in the areas,” says Crossman.
“Sometimes, the neighbouring ambulance is responding 40 or 50 minutes away.”
Though the pilot project was announced by government in July, the launch comes days after a 13-year-old died as the result of an ATV collision in Haut-Lamèque, which took an ambulance a reported 40 minutes to respond.
The New Brunswick Acadian Society (SANB) launched a petition Tuesday, calling on the province to cancel Medavie’s contract with Ambulance New Brunswick.
“It’s a problem when people kind of ask themselves, in an emergency situation, ‘well, should I call an ambulance or should I drive myself to the hospital,'” asks Eric Dow of SANB.
Ambulance New Brunswick says based on results in other jurisdictions, the RRUs have proven their success.
“They really have been able to demonstrate the benefit,” says Ambulance New Brunswick vice-president Matthew Crossman. “Specifically in rural communities, where there are long transport times and multiple calls.”
The RRUs differ from ambulances because they will have only one paramedic, rather than two. They also don’t have the ability to transport patients.
The new vehicles will respond, treat patients as needed until an ambulance arrives, and then be free to respond to another call as needed.