Supporting Saskatchewan’s road warriors

New ambulances help keep prairie paramedics mobile

These paramedics are all too familiar with getting the show on the road.

Last year, ambulance staff in Saskatchewan’s Sun Country Health Region responded to more than 4,500 emergency calls—and travelled 750,000 kilometers in total to reach those people in need.

Racking up numbers like these on the odometer means plenty of wear and tear on the agency’s ambulance vehicles. That’s a big reason why Marga Cugnet, the chief executive officer of the health region, was all smiles when Sun Country recently received $20,000 from Enbridge toward the purchase of two new ambulances.

“Due to the large volume of calls, and the kilometers our ambulance staff have to cover, we try to replace at least one vehicle each year,” says Cugnet, whose health region is responsible for delivering emergency services and medical care to towns, communities and farms across a 33,000-square-km portion of the province from the Manitoba border to the U.S. border.

The Sun Country region plans to use the funding later this summer to replace two ambulances in its 27-unit fleet to serve in the area around Estevan and Weyburn, the region’s largest centers. To cover costs for the vehicles, which carry a price tag of $115,000 each, Enbridge’s contribution will be supplemented with proceeds from an annual charity golf tournament in Weyburn and other donations.

“We’ve always been well supported by the community. But with the downturn in the economy, it’s getting more challenging to raise funds. So this support from Enbridge is critical. It means we can maintain service levels so our ambulance presence is always there when patients need it, especially in our rural areas,” Cugnet explains.

Enbridge’s donation came from our Safe Community grant program, which directs funds to emergency response teams and facilities in communities near our pipelines and facilities.

Enbridge has a visible presence in southeastern Saskatchewan, with an office in Estevan and 160 employees who manage the South Prairie gathering and trunk system — about 2,200 km of pipelines that collect oil in the region.

The new ambulances will not only bolster service to rural towns and communities, but also to workers in the regional oilpatch, says Jeff Yanko, a Saskatchewan-based public affairs advisor with Enbridge. “There’s a lot of industry activity here,” he says, “and because our gathering system is so spread out, the ambulances are vital to the safety of our operations.”

Yanko says he learned about the agency’s ambulance replacement plans after speaking to Charles Eddy, Sun Country’s regional director of emergency medical services, as part of Enbridge’s ongoing engagement with local emergency responders.

“Enbridge is a vital piece of the local oil industry and community,” says Yanko. “So for our company to use our Safe Community program to build partnerships and provide needed funding, that’s very important to us.”