Paramedic shortages continue to affect parts of New Brunswick, particularly in rural areas and one MLA thinks it may be time for the government to regain control of Ambulance New Brunswick.
Recruitment and retention are the two biggest issues facing Ambulance New Brunswick.
"We could use 100 probably right today," said Andrew McLean, Local 4848 president.
McLean says staffing is a geographic chess game as paramedics are moved around the province to fill voids when a call goes out. Urban centres take priority.
Mclean says, however, it’s common for an ambulance to sit empty.
"We physically don’t have the bodies to put in those units," McLean said. "The units are sitting there and there’s nobody to call to call in. On an average day we are running between 50 and 60 members coming in on overtime to try to staff these trucks to help out their community."
Ambulance New Brunswick has target response times of nine minutes in urban centres and twenty five minutes in rural areas
"Hiring more is part of the solution, but also letting paramedics be able to practice the full scope of what they are trained for is definitely a part of the solution," said Green Party MLA Kevin Arseneau.
Arseneau would also like to see more quick-response units on standby.
"It’s not an ambulance, but it’s a first responder ready to go to a call really quickly and wait for the ambulance, stabilize the patient as much as possible," he said.
Any time spent waiting for an ambulance is stressful for both the patient and the paramedic.
"When we get a call for a chest pain or a medical emergency, then we realize that we are going to be 40 minutes to respond, mentally that’s exhausting for us, to know that we can’t get there any quicker," McLean said.
Arseneau says it might be time to return Ambulance New Brunswick to the public sector under the watch of the provincial health authorities.