A rural ambulance paramedic says a stretch of Route 90 along the Irish Loop is so bad that cardiac monitors are practically useless unless the driver pulls over.
“To work in this kind of situation, it’s hideous,” said Nicole Yetman-Ryan, who travels that road regularly on the hour’s run to
St. John’s and back.
“This is the worst winter we have ever had. This road is to the point now it’s almost impassable.”
The worst, said Yetman-Ryan, is a roughly 30-kilometre stretch between Gaskers and St. Joseph’s.
She said rural medics were given $30,000 cardiac monitors a few years ago, but with roads rutted and full of potholes, the already sensitive machines are unreliable this year.
Paramedics need accurate readings to monitor the patient’s condition and relay information to hospital personnel waiting their arrival in St. John’s.
Even manual blood pressure machines can be impossible to use on such roads, Yetman-Ryan said, adding the road conditions make the ride uncomfortable for patients even though they are secured on stretchers, and the job harder for the paramedic tending to them in the back of the rigs.
“We’re being bounced around like ragdolls,” she said.
“My big issue is government spends so much money advertising for tourism on the Irish Loop. The (tourists) don’t realize when they get there how bad the roads are to travel on.”
Yetman-Ryan said the road gets patched up, but not properly resurfaced, and last year there was little work on the stretch that’s now deplorable.
“Not even a kilometre,” she said.
Attorney General Felix Collins, the MHA for Placentia-St. Mary’s, was in the area about a month ago to look over roads with local Transportation and Works officials to help him put together a priority list to recommend for this season’s funding.
“I didn’t need to make that trip to find out what the roads were like. I knew anyway,” he said Monday.
“I concur with the needs in St. Mary’s on Route 90, the main drag.”
When told by The Telegram about the trouble paramedics are experiencing on Route 90, he said firefighting vehicles and school buses are encountering problems with roads in various areas.
Collins noted while there are numorous issues in St. Mary’s Bay, with 540 kilometres of roads, much work has been done to Route 90 over the years, and tens of millions of dollars spent across the district.
“We’ve got work that’s needed on the Cape Shore, the road to Ship Harbour, road in Long Harbour, through Markland, plus the two gravel roads in the Colinet area,” Collins said of some of the needs.
He said he itemized a list to the minister of Transportation and Works and his officials.
Safety issues such as bridges and culverts get priority, and then it becomes a matter of weighing where the rest of the money will be spent, Collins said. Decisions will be made around March.
“From my perspective, there is no bigger issue or more contentious issue, nothing bigger on my plate,” he said of the role roads play in district matters.
“It’s no doubt a challenge, a real challenge to address it all.”