July 18, 2014 at 8:38 AM
An injured logger waited at the Queen Charlotte helicopter landing pad for 41 minutes last week before an ambulance arrived to take him to the hospital a couple of kilometres away.
That’s because no ambulance was available in Queen Charlotte, says village administrator Peter Weeber, so one had to be sent over from Sandspit.
The incident happened on Tuesday, July 8. Helijet rescued the injured man from his work site and brought him to Queen Charlotte. RCMP and local firefighters were called out to assist with the transport and were waiting on the tarmac when the helicopter arrived at 3 pm, Mr. Weeber said.
The patient waited in the helicopter until the ambulance got there about 40 minutes later, he said. Luckily, the man did not have life-threatening injuries, he said, or the outcome could have been very different.
“It’s pretty ridiculous,” he said. “RCMP, the helicopter pilot, we all sat there, and that patient sat there from 3 pm to 3:41 pm before he could be taken to the Queen Charlotte hospital... It’s not acceptable.”
An ambulance could have come from Queen Charlotte in a matter of minutes but there was no staff available that day, Mr. Weeber said. Lately, the Queen Charlotte ambulance station has been staffed only about 50 percent of the time, he said. Other ambulance stations in rural communities face the same issue, because BC Ambulance relies on community volunteers to fill these positions. Although the ambulance workers are paid when called out, there is no guarantee of work and most of them have other full-time jobs.
“This is a problem that has been ongoing and ongoing,” Mr. Weeber said. “We keep bringing this up with the Ministry of Health and the BC Ambulance Service.”
The problem could be solved if the ambulance service hired a full-time person at the Queen Charlotte station to help out, he said.
It’s strange that BC Ambulance is able to get away with providing patchwork service in remote communities, Mr. Weeber said, service that would not be considered adequate anywhere else in BC.
“I don’t know if it would be acceptable for the RCMP to show up only 50 percent of the time, or for the fire department to show up 50 percent of the time, or if the toilets didn’t flush 50 percent of the time,” he said. “All of us would be in trouble.”
The BC Ambulance Service is investigating the incident.