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STONE – When people need an ambulance, they need it now

(Image: CFJC)

By TODD STONE
MLA, Kamloops-South Thompson

ON THE EVENING of Oct. 9, 2021, Kamloops resident Sue Mark was beyond worried. Her mother had fallen and Sue was concerned she may have broken her hip.

MLA Todd Stone.

Her mother had also fainted and, with a history of stroke, Sue knew what she had to do — she called for an ambulance.

As Sue was consumed by stress and worry for her mom, she was soon faced with an added concern — how long would it take to get her mother the urgent care she needed?

Sue sat on the phone for 15 minutes just trying to get her call answered. It was a further two hours before the ambulance arrived.

To Sue, this was unbelievable and terrifying. She was worried her mom wouldn’t make it. Thankfully, she did. Unfortunately, Sue’s experience was not the only one that evening.

Elaine had this to say about her experience calling 911 in Kamloops on Oct. 9: “I couldn’t get through last night. I waited on hold for 30 mins. BCEHS called me back 1 hour 45 min later to ask if I still needed an ambulance.

“I was already at the hospital.”

And Judy said: “I called an ambulance for my mom who was unresponsive and was put on hold! I called back FOUR times and finally screamed ‘don’t put me on hold.’ [It was a] nightmare, absolute nightmare.”

We can’t afford to take these risks with a person’s life over and over again. Changes are needed now to avoid this type of situation and to prevent much worse outcomes for people in medical distress and their families.

Alarmingly, I have since learned that part of the challenge that night may have been the fact that three of the full-time ambulances in Kamloops were out of service, with coverage being provided to Kamloopsians by ambulances from other communities like Chase.

Obviously, this is totally unacceptable.

But when I raised this with Health Minister Adrian Dix during question period in the legislature, all he could say was that he agreed people should have access to an ambulance urgently — and he threw around a bunch of numbers and statistics about increasing funding and supports.

That may be a start, but it doesn’t bring any comfort to residents like Sue and her mother, and to many others who have found themselves in the same situation of waiting too long to talk to an emergency dispatcher or get an ambulance.

These can be life or death situations and the minister is failing to address the realities of what’s happening in these urgent situations.

Sue, Elaine, Judy and other Kamloopsians don’t want to hear numbers and statistics. They want to hear that the minister and the premier are going to take quick, decisive action now to make sure people get the emergency service they need when they need it.

So, what’s the plan? Because people can’t wait for a slow response from government — just like they can’t wait for a slow response when someone they love is in medical distress.

Todd Stone is the MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson and the Opposition critic for municipal affairs and housing.

About Mel Rothenburger (8573 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

3 Comments on STONE – When people need an ambulance, they need it now

  1. Jennie Stadnichuk // October 23, 2021 at 11:06 PM // Reply

    It’s probable that in B.C. of the 1970’s and 80’s it was not the same as it is now.

  2. Sean McGuinness // October 23, 2021 at 11:09 AM // Reply

    Oh, thank you Mr. Stone for pointing out just how shambolic our current system is with slow ambulances. The health of our citizens is in Jeopardy!

    Well, Mr. Stone should realise that some of us can remember things that happened more than five years ago. Perhaps one should write about all those heartfelt cases where a person tried to get a family doctor in Kamloops during the BC liberal reign and failed. The best one could do was put one’s name on a list (which already had 20,000 names) which amounted to nothing more than a Ponzi scheme. What do you think the negative health consequences of that were Mr. Stone?

    In light Mr. Stone’s compassionate (yet politically motivated) story, perhaps it might be nice to get a little more perspective on the current state of health care and have an actual doctor weigh in. Mr. Dix aside, I’m sure that a lot of Doctors would have a lot of interesting things to say about Mr. Lake and his reign of indifference.

  3. BCAS is a joke. I was a Paramedic in Calgary, Alta in the 70’s/ 80’s and nothing like this ever happened

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