Public demonstration in support of Grand Manan medevac scheduled

(Submitted photo) Atlantic Charters used this Piper Navajo Panther PA31 for medevac flights off Grand Manan.

GRAND MANAN – Tatum Worthen is organizing a public demonstration in support of an on-island medevac.

The objective of the May 19 demonstration is to have Atlantic Charters begin operating medevac flights off the island again.

Recently, Worthen’s mother, Lorraine, suffered a stroke. Due to delays in getting a flight to the island, Lorraine was unable to be flown off the island in time to receive a clot-dissolving drug. Worthen’s mother is now recovering and undergoing physical and cognitive tests as well as physiotherapy. The family is uncertain, yet, if her recovery will be complete.

“I would like my voice to be heard, so I feel like the only way to do that is to do a public protest,” said Worthen in the wake of her mother’s illness.

The flight that arrived came from Nova Scotia.

“The first one they called was unable to come,” said Worthen, because it was dispatched in a search and rescue operation for missing fishermen in the northern part of the province.

Atlantic Charters has been unable to operate the medevac service since changes to pilot fatigue rules came into effect earlier in the year. Discussions have been ongoing for months to seek an exemption for Atlantic Charters given the uniqueness of the situation on Grand Manan. To date, nothing has come from those negotiations. The department of Health has repeatedly declined to make anyone from the department available to discuss the medevac file.

“Discussions in relation to air medevac needs in Grand Manan are ongoing,” says an email a department representative sent on May 1. “In the meantime, all previously communicated plans to ensure safe evacuation by air from Grand Manan remain in place.”

The rally will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 969 Route 776, near the Ambulance New Brunswick depot.

“We’re all going to be sharing our stories and making ourselves heard,” said Worthen.