Daughter says Parksville, B.C. man died while family on hold with 911 for 30 min
Barbara Blakey's family had gathered to celebrate a family wedding, but just days before the ceremony, 72-year-old Harry Charles Blakey died in his Parksville, B.C. home.
He passed away on Aug. 27, while his family was on hold with 911. They had been trying to get an ambulance for half an hour, but all they got was a recorded message saying to wait for the next available attendant.
"During which time, listening to this, my father passed away on the floor of his kitchen," Barbara Blakey struggled to say while speaking with CTV News on Wednesday.
Charles Blakey died from a heart attack, and while his daughter does say he had a terminal illness, his doctors had said he would likely live until Christmas.
His daughter says that Charles was active, especially in sports, and that the family was excited to celebrate a wedding together this summer.
Now, the Blakey family is trying to find out what caused the delay in getting through to dispatchers, and have contacted the BC Health Authority and the patient care and quality review board to investigate the matter.
"We needed help for him and we didn't get it and I just really worry for anyone calling an ambulance in that area," said Blakey.
"You don't know that when you call 911 nobody's going to come to the phone to help you," she said.
Troy Clifford, president of the Ambulance Paramedics of BC, says he's also looking for answers.
"It's devastating to the paramedics and dispatchers that would be involved in that, but more importantly it's the impacts on that family and their experiences (that) is tragic," he said Wednesday.
Clifford hopes that a recent recruitment push by the province, and the hiring of a new chief ambulance officer, will bring positive results.
On Tuesday, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said that the province would be making the "largest hiring push in B.C.'s history" for the paramedic service in rural ambulance service areas.
The plan includes the hiring of 85 new full-time paramedics in some locations and 30 new full-time dispatchers.
The province also plans to convert 24 stations from on-call staffing to 24/7 stations, and will move 26 other stations to scheduled on-call staffing.
The hiring push, which the province estimates will be complete by December, comes too late for Harry Blakey, however, who was a former RCMP investigator.
"When he saw something wrong in a system he immediately took to paper and wrote a letter to try to do something about it," said Barbara Blakey. "So I'm stepping up to try and do something on his behalf."