AJAs 2017 Finalists


Slug/Label Ambulance response times AJA submission
Date Aired or Published Continuing coverage starting May 2, 2017
Media outlet where first aired or published: CBC Radio One
Name of Program: Labrador Morning
If co-produced, list partner: Bailey White
Location: Happy Valley-Goose Bay
List awards, grants: N/A
Running time (TV/Radio): 27:27

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

What started as a tip from a hospital source has developed into a province-wide private ambulance investigation. Paramedics in Happy Valley-Goose Bay were taking upwards of an hour to respond to emergency calls when it only takes 15 minutes to drive across town. I made calls and found a resident with a story. After that interview, people came forward with their own experiences. When confronted with our reporting -- multiple first-hand accounts of extended waits -- the Health Minister launched an investigation. Internal documents corroborated the stories people told. They confirmed understaffing and showed distrust in the self-reported response time system. The service provider in Happy Valley-Goose Bay was contracted to have two fully staffed ambulances ready 24/7 but the department’s investigation determined that was only met half the time. Labrador Ambulance Service Ltd. promised to do better but its contract was terminated when yet another patient waited too long and died. The province now operates the service. Citing an increase of response time complaints in the wake of Labrador Morning’s reporting, the provincial government announced a province-wide investigation which is expected to conclude sometime in February.

Resources of the newsroom (money and time) available to complete the story:

The most time-consuming aspect of the story was sorting through hundreds of pages of response times and internal emails. I had two days to analyze that paperwork, and write a radio debrief and online article. Finding someone who experienced a long wait time, to put a face to the tip, took every spare minute over multiple days. No day itself was devoted to the effort. All interviews, like with the mayor and minister, were either live on the show or had a 15-20 minute pre-interview beforehand -- depending on the interviewee’s availability. I was out of town covering another story the week the Labrador Ambulance Service investigation results were released. Bailey White arranged the ensuing interview with the health minister and wrote an online article. A CBC web writer in St. John's wrote the online component from Bailey's interview when the province terminated Labrador Ambulance Service's contract. -- The submitted audio is comprised of the most developmental interviews buttended together. Some personal accounts, reactions and follows have been left out in order to cut down on the file’s length. These timecodes and dates will give you a timeline: - (00:00) Robyn Wells remembers her mom’s death -- Aired May 4, 2017 - (07:18) I debrief internal documents -- Aired Jun 6, 2017 - (12:08) Labrador Ambulance Service investigation results -- Aired Oct 11, 2017 - (16:10) Mayor Hickey calls for public ambulance service/says there’s been another long wait time -- Aired Oct 18, 2017 - (18:29) Province ends contract with Labrador Ambulance Service -- Aired Oct 23, 2017 - (19:34) Province announces province-wide investigation -- Aired Dec 6, 2017 Labrador Morning is staffed with a producer/co-host (the male voice), host (Bailey, the female voice), and two reporters-- myself included.

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