Monday, June 27, 2011

ECCA - Was it done right?

The Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) released a report in April of 2011, titled "Review of the Safety Implications for Patients Requiring Medevac Services to and from the Edmonton International Airport". ... phew.. long title huh? The report was requested by the Minister of Alberta Health and Wellness and you will note that at the bottom of each page in this report, are the words "Promoting and improving patient safety and health service quality across Alberta".

Reports are a cool thing. You ask for something, they give you information on what you asked for. And now that you have all of this cool information, you can run with it. BUT... WHAT IF what you asked for, wasn't what you were really wanting. Or even worse... what if you asked for a report to only give what you want so that any decisions based on that report, are slanted in the direction you want them to go in?

We have seen this all before. Electrical deregulation, selling Epcor stuff, the need to have new power lines (aka Bill 50) and oh yes, how to handle closing the City Center Airport. The truth of the matter is ... the reports are meaningless. They never used to be but they sure are now, in today's politics. Both the City of Edmonton and the Province of Alberta have abused the "report" thing so badly we just can't really believe many of them.

With that said, this report actually starts to bring out some of the truth about just how BAD moving medevac services to EIA is. As you read through the report, you almost get the feeling it's saying "those arrogant idiots in the City are putting lives at risk". And you would be 100% right.

Lets go back to September of 2010 where an article titled "Stelmach 'Nothing moves' on closure of municipal airport" appeared in the Edmonton Sun.

"Nothing moves until all options are discussed to make sure that there is no compromise of the Medevac services that we have in the province of Alberta, and I'm serious on that point," Stelmach said.

I suspect there may be more truth to that, than expected. Because you see, "nothing moves" even means that the medevac flights themselves have been grounded. And why is this? When the City stated they were going to close one of the runways, the Regional Airport Authority (those folks who failed to do their jobs over the years in dealing with this airport) specifically stated to City Council... DO NOT CLOSE THE MEDEVAC RUNWAY. And the City never listened. They wanted to prove THEY were God and could do what THEY wanted to, and closed the only runway best suited for medevac services. And where was the Provincial Government, and Stelmach when this happened? Clearly, they were hiding.

Another quote from the same Sun article...

"The province has authority over where Medevac flights go. Medevac flights in the Edmonton-area currently use both the City Centre and International airports, but there is a long-term plan to consolidate services at one airfield."

Someone from the Alberta Government should have stepped in and stopped this runway from being closed, and they did not. And in the Fall of 2010, Edmonton was strapped in with some bad weather. If you follow Murphy's Law, then you know that the Hospital in Grande Prairie had an urgent need to transport a critically ill baby to Edmonton. A call was made to dispatch that flight, and due to weather conditions the medevac flight was not able to leave immediately. It took several hours before the weather allowed the option for the flight to leave, and when they called to say they were on their way, the doctors had to cancel the request. They knew that by the time the medevac flight arrived, it would have been too late. The windows of opportunity to save this baby's life, had disappeared. Had that runway not been closed, the medevac flight could have taken off, due to different rules allowing that runway to have been used. Would the baby have survived if it had been taken in time? Sadly, we will never know. The baby died. And YES, several city councilors WERE informed of this.

Now, considering the above, one would think that both the City of Edmonton and the Province of Alberta could be culpable in the death of this child. I have been trying to determine who the parents are, without luck. I strongly suspect they were only told "due to weather conditions in Edmonton, the medevac flight was not able to depart in time" ... ... if they only knew the truth.

If Stelmach had ANY guts, he would have called Mandel when he KNEW they were going to close the medevac runway. But no... So now the question is, with this new HQCA review will the Alberta Government now do the right thing and force the City to re-open this runway? It seems like they have the legal power to do so. But then... that would take guts. Doing the right thing...

Take a read through the HQCA report. Are we going to let our medical services go from being one of the best around, to being one of the worst around? The City Center Airport should have never been closed. Had the Regional Airport Authority done it's JOB there would be a lot more activity at the CCA. Not necessarily from increased flights either. And don't think for a minute that you won't need those services because you live in Edmonton. You do drive, travel, visit... same as your friends and family and their friends and their families.

Oh... one more thing to think about. At the start of this I stated the "thing" about reports. Do note, this recent HQCA report does NOT include the number of medevac flights that were missed, and the reasons and results. Careful what you ask for...


  1. Nice writing Gary.

    My skeptical nature long ago suggested to me that such as this ... well, the situation requires some real substantial grass-roots intervention, and I'm afraid individual good works just won't cut the mustard. (Skeptical, please note, but not pessimistic, and certainly not cynical.)

    What I've been working on is a "participatory deliberation" system, where folk such as yourself could collaborate on analyses like this. A "discourse-based decision support system" because, let's face it, accidents of geographical location and political specifics don't change the nature of the challenges and problems we're facing.

    got yer back!
    @bentrem | @ITGeek

  2. No question in my mind that we have been shafted by politicians who circumvent or alter the way a process was designed to work, so that they can get their own personal preferences done instead of dealing with the real true needs of the people they are supposed to represent. Or in Harpers case, create new processes to satisfy his dictator approach to shoving things down our backs. This isn't JUST a CCA or YEG or ABGOV issue, it's one that the entire country and probably the entire world is affected by. And we MUST stand up and let those who rule, know we are watching with a close eye.

    The problem is, until there is some form of accountability in the way of recall legislation, we are all too often "stuck" with the shit that's hitting the fan.

  3. Well done, Gary. No need for me to expand on my position on the closure of ECCA. You know, beyond that it is asinine, ill-conceived, ill-advised and very likely illegal. But hey, there is money to be skimmed from the public purse for cronies and insiders to "develop" land for families to "live" on where jet fuel and diesel have been used and spilled for over 75 years. What could go wrong? Since the City insists on being the Prime Developer, guess who will end up paying all the "unforseen" environmental clean-up? Why the City's shareholders of course. Who's that? US :/