Toronto to Lose Critical Medical Evacuation Helicopters

October 19, 2010, 12:13 PM EST


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The CAW is expressing alarm at the decision by ORNGE to move the Toronto Island Medivac helicopters to the Hamilton International Airport, which will dramatically reduce service to Canada's largest city, the union says.
"The decision to cut the service from Toronto Island Airport means that an important access point to the large highly specialized hospitals downtown Toronto has been significantly changed," said CAW President Ken Lewenza, calling the move "frightening."
"The move of the base to Hamilton could add large amounts of time to the wait for critical care," said Lewenza.  "If someone is so ill that they must be sent by Medivac to the hospital, they can certainly not afford to be stuck in a traffic jam.
"We're demanding that ORNGE take safety and the effort to secure life into consideration and immediately reverse this decision," said Lewenza.
The union learned of the change in services during a meeting with the company, but so far ORNGE has not made the decision public.
"Everyone in the Toronto area has seen the orange coloured helicopters flying overhead," said CAW Local 2002 President Leslie Dias. "These helicopters carry people who require high levels of medical care to hospitals in Toronto -hospitals like Sick Children's, St. Michael's and Sunnybrook to receive specialized medical care. There is no doubt that people will suffer as a result of this decision.
Our members provide critical care service to very sick patents in Ontario, this is the highest level of paramedical care in Canada," said Dias.
The 30 ORNGE workers at the Toronto Island Airport are represented by CAW Local 2002. The decision will mean that for the first time in over 30 years there will not be Medivac helicopters in the country's largest city.
The Toronto Island Airport helicopter base employs:
22 full-time Paramedics (ORNGE)
8 part-time Paramedics (ORNGE)
20 full-time Helicopter Pilots (Canadian Helicopters Ltd.)
15 Helicopter Maintenance Engineers (Canadian Helicopters Ltd)
Approximately 71 per cent of the flights out of Toronto Island airport are to locations north and east of Toronto. 

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