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Labrador Ambulance Services disputes blame for ambulance delay

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LAS considering legal recourse over minister’s comments

HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, NL – Labrador Ambulance Services (LAS) is considering legal action against the province over comments made regarding the termination of the company’s ambulance contract in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
Government terminated LAS’s contract following an incident in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Oct. 17, when it was alleged LAS took 40 minutes to respond to a call.
A law firm representing LAS sent a letter to the media as a response to comments made by Health Minister John Haggie regarding the termination.
The letter states that the ambulance arrived within 20 minutes, not 40 as reported, and that Labrador Grenfell Health (LGH) was complicit in the long response time.
Haggie told the Labradorian at the time the termination resulted from numerous concerns about ambulance response times in the town. He also said the provider had agreed to move to a more central location and put a monitoring system in place.
“Literally within two weeks of that, we have some further concerns raised in the public and as a result of that, we lost confidence in the ability of the ambulance provider to deliver the service,” Haggie told the Labradorian on Oct. 20.
The letter from the firm representing LAS – Hughes and Brannon out of Clarenville – said when LAS received the call at 10:21 a.m. on Oct. 17, LGH provided an incorrect address.  
It states LAS called back 10 minutes later to provide a status update, ask for help from an LGH ambulance because they were on another call, and clarify the address.
LAS claims they were never given the correct address, but still arrived on scene within 19 minutes.
“LAS's requests for use of LGH's ambulance while one of its own was out for service from Oct. 11 to Oct. 17 were denied,” the letter states.
“Despite LGH's failure to provide a correct address, LAS found the correct property address and arrived on scene within 19 minutes; and, the government policy in place for vehicles out for mechanical issues was followed by LAS.”
LAS takes issue with the minister’s comments, stating Haggie did not correct what it says was incorrect information about response time.
The company says it received a letter from government after business hours on Oct. 19 giving it until 3 p.m. on Oct. 20 to agree to an assignment of its contract.
LAS states it sought time to investigate the incident and seek legal advice, and the request was denied.
The law firm said having received the email on Oct. 20, LAS was allowed little time for appropriate action or reaction, and refused public comment at that time and continued its investigation as it felt public comment without investigation and confirmation of all pertinent facts was inappropriate.
The lawyers’ letter states Haggie assigned blame to LAS and avoided any responsibility, thereby tarnishing the reputation of LAS and its employees in the process.
“Government acted in this manner in an attempt to deflect any blame for this tragic incident from them and to avoid public condemnation of their actions or inaction,” the letter stated.
According to the letter, LAS is currently reviewing available legal options.

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