Fly On EHS’s New LifeFlight Airplane From Yarmouth And Sydney To Halifax Instead Of By Ambulance

The province of Nova Scotia is set to enhance its Emergency Health Services (EHS) with the introduction of a new LifeFlight airplane that will transport non-critical care patients from Yarmouth and Sydney to Halifax for tests and treatment.

This initiative aims to free up ambulances and paramedics for local emergency calls, thereby reducing wait times, and providing patients with a more comfortable and faster alternative to road travel.

Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

Michelle Thompson, Minister of Health and Wellness, commented on the importance of this service, stating, “The demand on emergency health services is growing and the best place for ambulances and paramedics to be is in their communities, helping people when an emergency strikes. This new plane will also drastically reduce the time it takes for patients to access the healthcare they need and return home sooner.”

The addition of the specially outfitted PAL Beech 1900 turboprop will allow travel between Yarmouth or Sydney to Halifax in just an hour, a stark reduction compared to the five-hour travel time by ambulance. The plane will carry two to four patients per trip and will begin service next week with three round trips daily, allowing up to 12 ambulances to remain in their communities each day.

The introduction of the non-critical care transport program is an important milestone in the province’s healthcare system, according to Paula Martell, Executive Director of LifeFlight Operations at EHS Operations. Martell expressed, “On behalf of EHS Operations, we are incredibly excited to get this program off the ground. EHS transfers of patients between facilities is an integral part of the provincial healthcare system. None of this would be possible without the support of our team members, from frontline staff to leadership, as well as from our partners like PAL Aerospace.”

Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

The program also promises improvement for the paramedic community, as highlighted by Daniel Gee, a primary care paramedic with EHS Operations: “As a paramedic of 13 years, part of that time in a support capacity at EHS LifeFlight, I am excited to go from working behind the scenes to a clinical environment in the new aircraft. This new program will not only enhance the overall patient experience and benefit the system, but it will also improve conditions for paramedics. Long-haul transport medicine takes a toll on paramedics, and this program will free up resources allowing them to respond to medical emergencies closer to home.”

The airplane is provided by PAL Aerospace, who is expanding their partnership with Emergency Health Services and the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness. “PAL Aerospace is thrilled to expand our long-standing partnership with Emergency Health Services and the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness with the delivery of this new non-critical care air ambulance service. The new aircraft with its longer range, increased cabin capacity, and seamless interoperability with the Province’s existing road and air ambulance fleet is a significant step forward in providing timely access to treatment and enhanced patient care,” said Jake Trainor, CEO of PAL Group of Companies.

The projected cost of this new service is $5.9 million per year, and the number of daily round trips is expected to increase over time. EHS LifeFlight’s critical care aircraft, comprising one plane and two helicopters, currently completes about 1,200 air medical missions each year. The new addition signifies a major advancement in healthcare delivery in the province, aligning with the growing demands of the communities served.

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