Staffing shortages shut down air ambulance bases

Staffing shortages reportedly lead to shut downs at several Ornge Air Ambulance bases over the summer.

Data obtained by CTV News Toronto, shows that between July 1 and Sept. 30, a number of Ornge's 11 bases were forced to shut down on 186 occasions.

It also shows that over the Thanksgiving weekend, four of the bases were shut down because pilots or paramedics called in sick.

The helicopters require two pilots to fly. Two paramedics are needed to allow the chopper to respond to emergency calls.

The problem became so bad over the summer that pilots were taxied from London to the GTA to fill in the gaps.

Ornge CEO Dr. Andrew McCallum insists that patient care did not suffer. He tells CTV that part of the issue has been, "an unusual number of departures," due to a hiring blitz by Canada's major airlines.

But McCallum also admits that employee morale has been an issue.

"I think it's fair to say there are morale issues, I'll be frank with you. I think we've been through contentious collective bargaining negotiations the last little while," he says.

McCallum says a recent contract should help improve morale.


With files from CTV News Toronto