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Wildrose's Saskiw pushes for delay on medevac change

The opposition Wildrose says there shouldn’t be a rush to move medevac to the International Airport.

Lac la Biche MLA Shane Saskiw says the government’s solution to have STARS helicopters take urgent patients to hospital just won’t work.

“Today’s a perfect example,” he said. “If someone in Lac La Biche, Fort McMurray, Grand Prairie, Provost, were to get into an emergency, they’d have to fly to the International Airport, and STARS cannot fly in this kind of weather.”

“It’s not like the movies.”

He says the city airport won’t be fully redeveloped for 25 years; and the first parts to be developed aren’t anywhere near the medevac runway, which could stay open until there’s a better solution.

Saskiw says if the government just waited, a better solution might present itself.

“One would expect, with the projected growth in population in northern Alberta, a tertiary care hospital could be developed in northern Alberta,” he said. “We hear of hospitals being built in Fort Saskatchewan, Sherwood Park, all over the place – one option is to have a hospital right beside an airport.”

Saskiw says there’s no reason to believe Edmonton wouldn’t keep the downtown runway open for now.

“I think if we went to the Edmonton council and asked them, and said ‘look, the procedures aren’t in place to ensure that northern Albertans are going to get the proper care’, I think they would justly say ‘we’ll give you the time to ensure the adequate protocols are in place,'” he claimed.

More than 100 northern doctors have signed a letter saying the medevac move will have dire consequences.

March 14, 2013