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80 minute wait time for ambulance a sign of a broken health care system: Bikman

LETHBRIDGE, AB (September 9, 2014): Immediate improvements must be made to Alberta’s ambulance dispatch system after a Stirling teen was forced to wait 80 minutes after suffering severe head trauma, Wildrose MLA Gary Bikman said today.

On Aug. 10, 18-year-old Dylan Court fell out of the back of a parked Jeep and fell onto his head. Dylan’s parents immediately took Dylan to Raymond General Hospital, just two blocks away. Without an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) available at Raymond General, health officials determined a transfer to Chinook Regional Hospital (CRH) was needed. 

After receiving extensive treatment from ER staff, Court was finally transferred by a Coaldale ambulance to CRH, nearly an hour and a half later where medical staff kept Court in stable condition. 

“The Wildrose has been sounding the alarm on the need to fix rural ambulance dispatch and wait times for years. It is literally putting the lives and care of patients at risk,” Bikman said. “Under this PC government’s flex-dispatch system, scarce emergency medical units jump from region to region to cover for ones sent away on non-emergency transfers to major cities, leaving entire corridors of the province dark.”

According to the Court family, one paramedic had arrived on site but was not permitted to transfer because she had already ‘timed out.’ The paramedic stayed on site to assist the ER staff.

“Once again we see a health care system where bureaucracy trumps common sense when it comes to patient care. Sadly, in this situation it sounds like AHS was more concerned about their time sheets than the lives of Albertans,” Bikman said. “We are experiencing poorer service at a far higher cost than before AHS stepped in to take over ambulance service. Albertans lives are at risk while the tax payers are paying a premium price for a poor service.”

Alberta Health Services began a review of the event after Tanya and Mitch Court, parents of Dylan, sent a letter demanding an investigation.

After a recent meeting with AHS, Tanya Court said AHS failed to explain why there wasn’t a back-up paramedic available to do a hospital transfer and was unable to justify this drop in service that left the life of her son in jeopardy.

“We were forced to sit in an emergency room waiting for an ambulance for well over an hour, knowing that every minute delayed put my son at greater risk,” Court said. “No family should have to go through that same experience again. This was life and death. We expect action and accountability, not excuses.”