Ambulance services in Hay River have calmer February after busy January

A shot of an ambulance in Yellowknife. (Photo by MyTrueNorthNow.com.)
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Ambulance services have been busy in Hay River since the turn of the year.

Hay River ambulances answered 66 calls in January. Calls for local medical emergencies increased significantly in 2020. There were 258 calls as of December 2020 compared to 187 in 2019 and 166 in 2018.

“We started the year with a real bang,” said Ross Potter, Director of Protective Services for the Town of Hay River, in a recent municipal council meeting. “It doesn’t seem like 2021 is going to be any better than 2020 for emergency services.”

Potter has repeatedly highlighted the increase in ambulance calls so far this year, saying it is putting a burden on protective services officers.

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“We had probably one of the busiest months I’ve ever seen with ambulance,” he says.

“We did 66 runs last month and brought in somewhere in the area of about $66,000 worth of revenue doing those calls.”

However, in an email, Potter said those numbers seemed to be a blip, as February’s numbers were much lower than January.

“As it stands right now (end of February results), we are averaging about 55 responses a month.  A little higher than normal but not alarming by any stretch of the imagination,” he said in an email.

Potter said the increase in ambulance calls in January was in part due to the homeless population in town, saying the ambulance services are responding to calls about homeless people on a daily basis.

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Town documents said protective services officers have been working with the ehealth centre, the shelter and the RCMP to ensure Hay River’s homeless have somewhere to stay where it’s warm, and warning people about the risks of drinking alone.

Mayor Kandis Jameson acknowledged the hard work that went into running the ambulance services in the town. She added the repeat hospitalizations for some people can take a toll on protective and medical services in town.

Jameson added she has brought concerns forward about the impact of the increase in ambulance calls forward to the territory’s homelessness and health ministers.

The ambulance fleet is working without access to all the equipment it was supposed to have.

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According to town documents, a new ambulance was due to arrive in Hay River in January.

“Due to issues created at the Ford factory by the pandemic the chassis was late getting to the body manufacturer,” the emergency services monthly report submitted on February 8 read.

The new delivery date is expected to be in April of 2021.

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