Long waits provoke Blackville to survey public on ambulance service

A New Brunswick ambulance is supposed to respond in 22 minutes to calls in Blackville. (Radio-Canada/Guy R. LeBlanc - image credit)
A New Brunswick ambulance is supposed to respond in 22 minutes to calls in Blackville. (Radio-Canada/Guy R. LeBlanc - image credit)

Concerned people are waiting too long, the Village of Blackville has launched a survey to get residents' views on ambulance service.

Some residents have waited more than 45 minutes for an ambulance in recent months — about double the standard, says Blackville Deputy Mayor Denver Brennan.

He said the target response time for emergency calls in Blackville is 22 minutes.

The survey asks residents to provide details of an incident requiring ambulance services, where the ambulance responded from, how long before the ambulance arrived, why the ambulance was requested and how satisfactory the experience was.

The survey is confidential.

Brennan said the issue has been going on for years and hasn't gotten better.

"Something has to change," he told Information Morning.

"We're supposed to be a priority post, but come to find out every ambulance building in New Brunswick is a priority post," he said.

Brennan said there were two calls for emergency services in the village the weekend of June 14 where an ambulance from Miramichi, more than 30 kilometres from Blackville, responded.

The ambulance at the Blackville posting was out of service, so those residents waited between 35 minutes and more than 45 minutes for care.

Village of Blackville
Village of Blackville

"On that Saturday, 24 units were out of service in New Brunswick and on that Sunday, 22 units were out of service in New Brunswick," said Brennan.

"But they say it's not a staff shortage."

Brennan said he's told that offload delays at hospitals are causing the long wait times.

The community is supposed to have an ambulance and rapid response unit staffed with an advanced care paramedic.

"So, if the ambulance isn't available, the rapid response unit responds and tends to the patient until the ambulance arrives," he said.

"But we haven't seen that at all."

Brennan said Blackville council has a meeting with Ambulance New Brunswick officials next month.

The survey will hopefully collect feedback from residents that can be presented at the meeting, but he's not hopeful it will lead to major change.

"Looking back at all the different conversations and meetings we've had with Ambulance New Brunswick, it doesn't seem to make a difference," he said.

Other rural communities, including Sackville and Sussex, say ambulance wait times aren't an issue.

Ambulance New Brunswick officials were not available for an interview Thursday.