Air Ambulance Centralization Threatens Northern Healthcare Access

News Release
Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Town of Peace River continues to express significant concerns with Alberta Health Services’ (AHS’s) proposed changes to Air Ambulance Services in northern Alberta. In their rush to centralize Air Ambulance Services, AHS will cause undue hardships for the Albertans in the northwest, particularly our more vulnerable populations.

AHS has recently concluded contract negotiations with a preferred vendor for Air Ambulance services. Although the Minister of Health herself confirmed that “The scope of the contract that went out to RFP (Request for Proposal) was to continue to have those local services provided locally,” AHS staff have now admitted that they are prepared to sign a contract with an operator who has no base in Peace River, contrary to the Minister’s published promise that “AHS Air Ambulance will continue to operate out of Peace River.”

With no deadline in place to require the vendor to re-open the Peace River base, Air Ambulance services will now be located somewhere yet unspecified. This means a delay in the time it will take for a patient to get the life-saving services they need. The Ministry is aware that there are problems with trying to get planes to land at Peace Regional Airport during poor weather. The Ministry and AHS know that this will affect patient care, especially for those who have already traveled from remote communities or whose needs are urgent. They have chosen not to answer these concerns.

We have also spoken to AHS regarding our concerns that if they proceed with their current candidate, our airport will lose scheduled flight service. This scheduled flight service allows us to qualify for critical federal funding. Without that support, we would have to re-examine all options related to airport viability, including the possibly of closing it.

The loss of an airport in Peace River would be a great loss to the local region and would impact a variety of activities from wildland firefighting to northern development. We are demanding that AHS review their RFP and select a candidate who can meet the requirements.