Red Cross to cover 90-year-old Lone Butte man’s $20,000 emergency airfare

Evacuated to Whitehorse during wildfires but had to be flown to Vancouver for heart condition

A Lone Butte man’s $20,000 emergency airfare incurred during 2017’s wildfire season will be paid by the Red Cross.

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett says she is pleased to announce a resolution to the plight of 90-year-old Rudolph Dunst of Lone Butte.

Dunst and his 87-year-old wife were forced to evacuate during last summer’s wildfires. They were able to find accommodation in Whitehorse but he was admitted to hospital and diagnosed with a heart condition. He required a procedure that could not be performed in Whitehorse and was airlifted to St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver via Yukon Air.

This left Dunst with a $20,000 bill for emergency airfare.

According to Barnett, he approached her office on December 14 of last year and Dunst eventually spoke directly with a ministry official who told him that his transportation costs would not be covered because it was ‘out of province’ travel.

Barnett raised the matter twice during question period at the Legislature. Health minister Adrian Dix repeatedly gave assurances but no action was taken. Barnett then approached the Red Cross directly and advocated on behalf of Mr. Dunst. The Red Cross kindly agreed to cover the $20,000 bill for emergency airfare.

“I find it rather disturbing to have this poor man put through months of unnecessary distress,” said Barnett. “Why didn’t the minister act when he had the opportunity? It is only through a determined effort at the highest levels that finally brought this matter to a close. The health minister should be ashamed of himself.”

UPDATE:

“The Red Cross works with people who have a need due to the wildfires on a case by case basis. So if someone has been impacted we invite them to come forward,” says Angela Hill International Communications Delegate with the Red Cross. “We know that there are people still out there who need support and we encourage them to call us.”

They continue to get people coming in for a variety of reasons, some for ongoing support and some for the first time, says Hill.

The Red Cross is keen to help not only those in need but also to work with community leaders if they have needs that they see are unmet, says Hill.

For those looking for help, for personal business or other reasons, they can call the Red Cross at 1-800-863-6582.

We reached out to Health Minister Adrian Dix and are currently waiting to hear back. We will update the story if we do.


max.winkelman@100milefreepress.net

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