Global News Article

Questions about B.C. ambulance response times as woman waits hour with broken hip

Resourcing for B.C.’s paramedic services is back in the spotlight, after a woman who fell and broke her hip at the Metrotown SkyTrain Station waited more than an hour for an ambulance Tuesday.

Firefighters arrived at the scene of the call within 15 minutes, and worked to keep the woman comfortable, but call records show it was 68 minutes before an ambulance arrived at the scene.

BC Emergency Health Services said the patient who broke her hip was stable, and that paramedics at the time of the call were occupied with a high volume of more critical calls.

The union representing B.C. paramedics says there’s more at play.

“Sadly, we’re seeing this more and more every day,” Ambulance Paramedics of B.C. president Tory Clifford said.

“I’m really worried. I’m not going to lie. I lose sleep at night. This sickens me.”

Clifford said the union tabled ideas years ago to address scheduling, recruitment and other problems the ambulance service is facing, but that the situation has only deteriorated.

“We know that we have up to 30 ambulances every day up to service, anywhere from 10 to 30 every day in the Lower Mainland,” Clifford said.

But it’s not just about resources; Clifford said the service is also facing a management problem.

“I’ve never seen an organization managed this badly.”

BC EHS Chief Operating Officer Darlene MacKinnon would not agree to an interview, and her communications department did not respond to Global News by deadline Wednesday.

“My question is what are you doing to fix this so that a poor lady does not have to wait for an hour and 10 minutes on a platform at a SkyTrain station,” Clifford said.