Outside consultants hired again for second EMS study

Two years ago, Alberta’s Sierra Consultants was hired to report on the territory’s ambulance services.

Two years ago, Alberta’s Sierra Consultants was hired to report on the territory’s ambulance services.

“The report sits on a shelf,” said past EMS supervisor Craig Battaglia in an e-mail.

“Yukon emergency medical services never implemented anything that the report stated.”

Now, the government has hired Sierra Consultants to draw up another report.

“Previously (Sierra Consultants) looked at how emergency medical services works and what improvements and changes could be made,” said Health spokesperson Patricia Living.

“And this one will look at all emergency response services.”

The 2005 review didn’t include other areas of emergency response, said Health minister Brad Cathers on Tuesday.

“And we want to look at all emergency medical response and modernize it to meet our needs and the needs of the future.”

Cathers could not say how much the contract was worth or how long the study would take.

This time, Sierra Consultants will be looking at the feasibility of having 911 in all Yukon communities, said Cathers.

The Yukon’s search-and-rescue system and its preparation for natural disasters, like floods, will also be scrutinized, he said.

“We’ve never looked at the entire system before.”

To modernize emergency response, it’s necessary to “pull in Outside advice and it’s also key to work with the volunteers who provide emergency medical services in Yukon communities,” said Cathers.

“Volunteers are the backbone of emergency medical services in rural areas.”

The government “is committing to the principal of standby pay” — to compensate volunteer attendants for their on-call hours, he added.

“The details will be finalized at the table with Health officials and rural volunteers.”

If the volunteers who walked off the job in Watson Lake and Dawson City want to come back, they are welcome, added Cathers.

“If they are not interested in coming back we will have to do a recruitment drive. And we will still provide interim coverage.”

Watson Lake and Dawson are currently serviced by Outside crews.

In the four months it took government to address the ambulance crisis, some of the volunteers went back to school or took other work, said Watson Lake’s ambulance negotiating committee head Stacy Doyle.

“We are losing people left and right — people who’ve been devoted volunteers for months,” added Watson’s ambulance supervisor Pauline Lund.

“Some people will not come back to the service, just from seeing the way people are being treated and the way that all of us have been treated,” said Doyle.