The family’s call for help was answered not by the Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre in St. John’s, as it usually would, but by a call centre in Italy.
“When he asked me what country, I was like, ‘Oh my God, what am I into?’” Shang Rideout told CBC News. “I wasn’t getting no sense from him at all from that point on.”
Dealing with the doctor in Rome was a “complete waste of time,” Rideout noted.
The doctor didn’t ask for his father’s symptoms, and seemed more concerned with where the ship was located, and what type of fishing they were doing.
According to the Canadian Coast Guard, the rescue sub-centre handled an average of 500 incidents involving 2,900 people annually. Of those, 28 per cent were classified as distress incidents.
The Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre was the victim of just one of the many budget cuts made by the Harper government. It has now been replaced by the inferior CIRM Roma, a radio medical centre.
Department of Fisheries and Oceans have since announced that a new contract with Praxes Medical Group had been signed to cover the entire Atlantic region. Praxes is an Atlantic Canada based company that had held the contract until the closure of the Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre in St. John’s, which will remain closed.
The CBC has more on the issue, with reactions from locals and more details on the dangers that these cuts present to Canadians.