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Countdown is on

Kent Driscoll
Northern News Services
Monday, March 12, 2007

CAMBRIDGE BAY - Halloween is several months away, but the Kitikmeot Health Centre has until then to secure an ambulance for the regional health centre.

The original ambulance won't be turning into a pumpkin, but the fire department is getting out of the patient delivery business.

"We have enough time to try and make this a better service," said Mike Burdett, director of the Kitikmeot Health Centre.

In February, the local volunteer fire department voted to stop handling patient pick-ups at the airport. This followed their decision to discontinue local ambulance service.

It wasn't an ambulance, but Burdett still appreciated the converted cube van firefighters were using to transport patients.

"It has been a very useful vehicle. It is high enough that we can secure (an IV) drip. The working room is there, it doesn't have to be a full transport. We don't need a full ambulance," said Burdett.

He is looking over a number of options, to make sure some sort of service continues after Oct. 31.

Transport is not a major cost for the health centre. Territorial government employees have their transport covered under their health plan, and Inuit patients are covered under federal non-insured health benefits.

The health centre could buy an ambulance and operate it themselves, they could establish an ambulance authority to take care of transport, or if a private business was established to transport patients, Burdett would consider hiring them.

"We are looking at all of that," said Burdett.