Concerns being raised due to closure of Arlington Street Bridge

Concerns are being raised over timely access to emergency care as the Arlington Street Bridge remains closed for an indefinite period.

“Ambulances bring in people this way, this is a quick route,” explained Geraldine McManus, a nearby resident. “For some people where it’s critical, it’s minutes to save their lives. It’s a valuable bridge, it always has been.”

McManus fears the indefinite closure of the bridge will lead to higher response times to medical emergencies.

“It’s in the middle of everything so response times are going to change for people getting to the hospitals and them coming quickly to this area of the neighbourhood.”

The City of Winnipeg closed the 111-year-old bridge indefinitely on Nov. 21, following an assessment of it that found several structural issues including the acceleration of steel corrosion.

MGEU Local 911 president Ryan Woiden says the closure of the bridge is an added factor, in addition to staffing and construction, for paramedics to consider when trying to find the fastest way to respond to emergencies.

“It’s added pressures to the crews responding knowing that time could be a factor and knowing that the bridge is out we definitely have to calculate which route we will be taking, how long that route is going to take and where we are coming from to try to have as little impact as possible for the patient,” said Woiden.

Area councillors where the bridge stands are also concerned about their constituents’ ability to access medical care with or without a paramedic.

“We know right now the Seven Oaks Hospital doesn’t have an emergency room. If you are getting people, you are going to get caught up in the traffic at McPhillips where they are at capacity. There’s also the other problem where people say ‘They are at capacity at the Salter bridge. Going under the Main Street underpass depending on the time of day is also at capacity,’” said Councillor Ross Eadie.

Councillor Vivian Santos added, “Making sure patients can get to and from Health Sciences Centre is the number one top priority and having to go through the McPhillips underpass should any incident happen at the McPhillips underpass will definitely create some havoc.”

The city is still working on a study on whether to expand the life of the bridge or to decommission it.

“Rebuild this bridge, rebuild memories, keep it here for the people that need it.”

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