Unconscious Gatineau woman waits 34 minutes for ambulance
Published Friday, December 14, 2012 4:48PM EST
Last Updated Friday, December 14, 2012 10:10PM EST
A Gatineau woman lay unconscious in her home last night for 34 minutes, waiting for ambulance to arrive. Paramedics say the incident highlights a crisis in their service.
The call to 911 came in just after 3 this morning. The 35 year old woman was in urgent need of help. But her family would anxiously wait by her side for more than half an hour before an ambulance could arrive to help.
“It's not a first time. It happens more and more often,” says Wayne Mallish, the president of the Outaouais Paramedic Union.
Outaouais paramedics called on their Ottawa counterparts to help. They, too, were too busy to send anyone over.
This Quebec region has 5 paramedic crews working overnight, 8 during the day and 7 on in the evening. The union says they need at least 1 more ambulance per shift just to keep the population safe.
“For us, we're very worried about that situation,” says Mallish. “We are decrying the situation since 2010 and nothing moves.”
Residents in Gatineau echo that concern.
“Obviously if it takes 34 minutes, it's because there aren't enough people, not enough ambulances,” says Danielle Cyr.
When asked what the problem is, Gatineau resident Ruth Schneider says, “the government. They have to take care of it but they don’t do it.”
Residents say it's all part of a bigger problem with health care in Gatineau. A report released yesterday by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) shows Gatineau's two hospitals had the worst mortality rate in the country. Results showed that the Hospital Standardized Mortality Ratio (HSMR) for the Hopital de Gatineau and the Hopital de Hull had risen more than 13 percent since 2007-08 and their 2010-11 mortality radio was 133.
In Gatineau yesterday, Quebec’s Health Minister Rejean Hebert announced plans to add one ambulance to the Gatineau fleet. Union President Wayne Mallish says the Minister promised to call the paramedic service on Monday to explain how the addition to their fleet would work.
“But we don't need it Monday,” says Mallish, “We need it right now.”
Ottawa’s Paramedic Service has a mutual aid agreement in place to help transport up to 50 patients this year in Gatineau. That number currently stands at 49. But the agreement ends at the start of the new year, according to Ottawa Paramedic Spokesperson J.P. Trottier, unless the Gatineau service agrees to cover liability insurance for Ottawa paramedics travelling across the river.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Joanne Schnurr