With nearly half its air ambulance fleet grounded because of “technical difficulties,” criticism was pouring in on Monday against new operator Babcock. Preparedness was at a critically minimum level in Northern Norway and doctors were ringing alarms.
Health Minister Bent Høie was accused of not fully realizing how precarious the situation was in Finnmark, while Babcock leader Hilde Sjurelv publicly apologized for the firm’s failure to have a fully operational fleet.
“This is a challening situation for the ambulance service and we’re using lots of resources to find solutions,” Sjurelv claimed. Høie stressed that it was most important not to endanger any lives by using aircraft that was troubled.
“I understand that this is generating unease and is demanding for the health care services in Northen Norway,” Høie said. Critics demanded that Babcock take over the fleet and crews that previously ran the air ambulance service but lost out when Babcock won control. Air ambulance service is critical in such a vast and sparsely developed area as Northern Norway, where ground transport can involve lengthy drives in difficult winter conditions.