Mistakes still plague ambulance station

The temporary ambulance station on top of Two Mile Hill has been operating 24/7 since the first week of January, deputy premier Elaine Taylor told a media conference Tuesday.

The temporary ambulance station on top of Two Mile Hill has been operating 24/7 since the first week of January, deputy premier Elaine Taylor told a media conference Tuesday.

Not true, said Emergency Medical Services director Michael McKeage five minutes later.

An ambulance crew was supposed to be stationed at the temporary trailer atop Two Mile Hill around the clock, but there were “technical difficulties,” he said.

“There were irregular heating issues and problems accessing amenities.” That is, the heat didn’t work and staff couldn’t get to the bathroom.

This, after the government spent more than $40,000 upgrading the construction trailer and building a plywood hallway to the Wildland Fire building.

And last winter, whenever there was an ambulance stationed there, it had to be kept running because a garage door in the Wildland Fire building wasn’t installed in September, as planned.

So there have only been round-the-clock crews at the temporary trailer since spring, said McKeage.

Tuesday’s news conference was called to announce construction of the new ambulance station, something that has been on the back burner for more than six years.

In 2004, the territorial government was planning to partner with the city and house its second ambulance base at the new public safety building, also atop Two Mile Hill.

Co-operating would have saved millions, eliminating the need for two separate disaster-resistant buildings across the street from one another.

But for some reason, it didn’t happen.

“We have enough space on that property to work out some arrangement with (the Yukon government) for the ambulance base, if that is their wish,” said Mayor Bev Buckway in 2007.

But the territorial government refused to come to the table, said Coun. Doug Graham at the time. “We knew we needed a new fire hall reasonably quickly, so our city administration gave (the Yukon government) a drop-dead date to be included in the new building … we needed to know by December (2007),” he said.

But the government had commitment issues.

So today, the $10.9-million public safety building will sit across from what is projected to be a $7.3-million ambulance station.

To speed construction of the new station – on the cusp of an election – the foundation of the new facility will be built on piles.

“This will facilitate quicker construction,” said project manager Philip Christensen.

And to speed things up further, the foundation contract was split from the main construction contract, he said.

Construction of the actual building isn’t expected to begin until late fall or early next spring, said Christensen.

And unlike the FH Collins construction project, when ground is broken for the new ambulance station the government won’t be breaking the law.

We have all the necessary Yukon Socio-economic Assessment Board permits in place, said Christensen.

“The Yukon Party had its hands slapped for circumventing the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act in their rush to announce (the FH Collins) project before Yukoners go to the polls,” said Liberal MP Don Inverarity, who attended the ambulance station announcement.

“That casts doubt on whether any progress has actually been made on the EMS station, or if this is just another ribbon-cutting.”

The new building will house communication officers, support staff and paramedics, said McKeage.

Right now, Emergency Medical Services’ communication centre is in a windowless hallway the size of two large phone booths, he said.

That’s where all the 911 calls are answered.

Mock-ups of the new building show wrap-around windows on the second floor, where the new communication centre will be.

On the ground floor there will be room for up to six ambulances and that’s where the paramedics will be housed.

There will also be a new, expansive training area.

Right now, we are training in the basement of the Riverdale base, said McKeage.

McKeage was not certain how many ambulance staff would be stationed at the new building and how many would remain in Riverdale, once both stations are operational.

“We have to do a volume analysis,” he said.

Once the new station is in operation, ambulance response times will be improved, said McKeage.

“This will offer better service to our growing population,” said Taylor, mentioning Whistle Bend.

Cormode and Dickson is putting in the pile foundation, said Christensen.

That work is expected to cost $550,000.

Contact Genesee Keevil at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Copper Ridge resident clears their driveway after a massive over night snowfall in Whitehorse on Nov. 2, 2020. Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for the Whitehorse and Haines Junction areas for Jan. 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Winter storm warning for Haines Junction and Whitehorse

Environment Canada says the storm will develop Monday and last until Tuesday

Maria Metzen off the start line of the Yukon Dog Mushers Association’s sled dog race on Jan. 9. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Mushers race in preparation for FirstMate Babe Southwick

The annual race is set for Feb. 12 and 13.

The Yukon government is making changes to the medical travel system, including doubling the per diem and making destinations for medical services more flexible. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Subsidy for medical travel doubled with more supports coming

The change was recommended in the Putting People First report endorsed by the government

Chloe Sergerie, who was fined $500 under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> on Jan. 12, says she made the safest choice available to her when she entered the territory. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Woman fined $500 under CEMA says she made ‘safest decision’ available

Filling out a declaration at the airport was contrary to self-isolation, says accused

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Fire damage, photographed on Jan. 11, to a downtown apartment building which occurred late in the evening on Jan. 8. Zander Firth, 20, from Inuvik, was charged with the arson and is facing several other charges following his Jan. 12 court appearance. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
More charges for arson suspect

The Inuvik man charged in relation to the fire at Ryder Apartments… Continue reading

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

Most Read