Tories Highlight Urgency of Lack of Ambulances in ‘Code Red’

By Sarah Klein

AmbulanceManitobans went more 100 hours without an available ambulance to respond to emergencies last year, according to data released Friday by the Progressive Conservative Party.

Opposition leader Brian Pallister slammed the NDP government for playing “Russian roulette with the lives of Manitobans,” saying in 2012, a shortage of ambulances put Winnipeggers at risk.

The problem is known as a Code Red, when there isn’t an available ambulance to tend to a call. The problem arises from paramedics sitting at hospitals waiting to off-load patients. The standard procedure can sometimes take several hours.

“This is simply unacceptable. This is an essential service. Lives are at risk and we cannot tolerate failure on this file,” Pallister said.

The Tories say last year, wait times increased to almost 43,000 hours from 36,000 hours.

Health Minister Theresa Oswald told the legislature in June: “We want those off-load times to come down.” On November 22, she said: “We’re working on driving down that off-load delay time.”

The City of Winnipeg has so far been fined $1.2 million by the province for the long wait times.