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The Swallowtail Lighthouse on Grand Manan Island. Image: Brad Perry

Expanded air ambulance service coming to Grand Manan

By Brad Perry Aug 4, 2023 | 5:41 AM

The mayor of Grand Manan said she hopes they are one step closer to having a permanent medevac service once again.

Ambulance New Brunswick announced this week that it has expanded its contract with Voyageur Aviation.

The company operates two aircraft for Ambulance NB’s air ambulance service based out of Moncton.

Grand Manan Mayor Bonnie Morse said the expansion means the second plane will be based on the island when it is not needed elsewhere.

“For us on Grand Manan, it’s a beginning, but we still have some progress to be made until we get to having an island-based medevac service, which is ultimately what our goal is,” Morse said in an interview on Thursday.

The community used to have an island-based medevac service through Grand Manan’s Atlantic Charters.

But the company suspended the service after new Transport Canada regulations took effect in December.

Those new federal regulations would require Atlantic Charters to hire more pilots — something the company has said cannot be done without the “necessary support.”

The mayor said there are a couple of factors why it is critical to have a medevac service based on the island permanently.

“When you have somebody who is in urgent need of medical care, particularly someone who is potentially suffering from a stroke, there’s the opportunity to get them to the major hospital in Saint John in a much quicker timeline,” said Morse.

“The other factor is that it is sometimes easier to take off than it is to land, particularly in some of that infamous Bay of Fundy fog that we have.”

In more than one instance, a military helicopter was dispatched from CFB Greenwood in Nova Scotia because weather conditions did not allow Ambulance NB’s plane to land.

Morse said she hopes a permanent island-based medevac service will return sooner rather than later.

“I keep telling myself every day we’re one day closer to a permanent solution, but it’s certainly been very frustrating the amount of time it’s taken,” she said.

“It’s been a long time that we’ve known there were going to be issues and it’s frustrating that we’re still having those conversations and we don’t have a final product yet.”

Operational details surrounding when Ambulance NB’s second plane will be located on the island are still being worked out, said Morse. Voyageur said it is in the process of recruiting pilots.


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