February 22nd, 2020

HALO air ambulance in need of provincial funding

By Kuhl, Nick on September 10, 2019.

Lethbridge Herald

Mayors and reeves from across southern Alberta are calling on the provincial government to “provide adequate funding” to the HALO air ambulance program, as well as an independent review of the provincial helicopter EMS system.

The group recently met in Taber to discuss the situations.

“That situation is serious, and the future may be bleak,” they said in a recent news release.

Earlier this year, negotiations between HALO and AHS resulted in a one-year agreement. It is set to expire Oct. 1, and included “restricted funding” of $1 million.

“This is the first significant funding HALO has received from the government in 12 years but unfortunately it did not come with an ongoing commitment,” representatives said in the release.

The agreement stipulates that a twin-engine helicopter was required. HALO obtained the services of such a machine through Rangeland Helicopters in Medicine Hat.

The operating costs of this helicopter have “put HALO in a bind and in spite of some amazing public donations this summer they currently have a $750,000 shortfall between now and the next contract being signed,” the release states.

At the Taber meeting, a motion was passed calling on the premier and the health minister to provide adequate ongoing funding to HALO and provide the $750,000 in bridge funding to keep them operating.

A second motion passed, calling on the province to conduct an independent review of the helicopter EMS system in Alberta that includes consulting with the public and stakeholders, such as industry and municipalities, in all parts of the province.

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