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Canada 'I don't have an ambulance to send you': Yorkton woman says husband could have died waiting for transfer

05:06  02 june  2018
05:06  02 june  2018 Source:   cbc.ca

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a blurry image of a street: Jacquie Lees said her husband is okay, but she worries other people might not be so lucky if they, too, endure waits for ambulance services.© B Calkins/Shutterstock Jacquie Lees said her husband is okay, but she worries other people might not be so lucky if they, too, endure waits for ambulance services.

Jacquie Lees had already lost one husband to a heart attack.

As she sat waiting for an ambulance last month, she couldn't help but wonder if it would happen again.

On May 24, her husband Grant Manz came in from the field unsure if he was having bad heartburn or a heart attack. They live about about 40 kilometres west of Yorkton.

"He was sweating profusely. He did not look well."

Lees said she dialled 911 once she began driving and talked to the operator as they headed toward the intersection of Highway 47 and Highway 52.

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"She said put your flashers on and when you get there pull over we'll send an ambulance," Lees said.

"When we got there she said, 'I don't have an ambulance to send you.' "

The operator told her she could wait until one was available, but Lees said she couldn't do that.

There is times we've got two and three units driving back and forth to Regina every day. - Dennis Nelson, owner of Yorkton and Area Crestvue Ambulance Services

Once they arrived at the Yorkton hospital, Lees said staff worked to stabilize her husband but they wanted to send him to Regina.

"It was quite a severe heart attack and they didn't want to wait," she said, adding bad weather prevented STARS Air Ambulance from being an option.

"They honestly didn't think he would make the trip to Regina. That's how bad it was, but we had to wait."

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According to Lees, it was more than an hour before an ambulance showed up. She said she is frustrated one wasn't available sooner.

"I lost one husband to a heart attack already. He went to play hockey one night and didn't come home," she said. "Damned if I was going to lose this one."

She said the ambulance driver who did come told her "we have four ambulances, but one was in the shop and the other three were gone."

Her husband is recovering at home, but Lees said the what ifs haunt her.

"We have a big area, we cover a big area," she said.

"What if there would have been a serious accident where there would have been multiple casualties and there's not ambulances?"

Ambulance operator says service is busy

"There are times when your system is not going to be able to handle what the demand is," said Dennis Nelson, owner of Yorkton and Area Crestvue Ambulance Services.

"We have a busy service here. We do a lot of transfers. There is times we've got two and three units driving back and forth to Regina every day."

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I 'm so confused and don ' t really trust what everyone says . My husband says if he got hurt, I better just call the ambulance . The advantage to waiting for the ambulance is they can rescue if you need it.

If the operator had just said 'there's an ambulance on the way but let me ask you these questions' that would be fine." Terry was rushed to the Royal Bolton Hospital [CAVENDISH]. My husband could have died whilst this prat at the end of the phone was asking idiotic questions.

He said calls are coordinated as best as they can be and they rely on hospital staff to determine what's urgent.

"If they indicate to us that it's necessary to go right away, it's a stat transfer than we arrange for another service to come in and do that transfer and it all happens within a half-hour," he said.

Nelson said they have "ample" staff, but the question of ambulance quantity depends on the day.

"We could use six or seven ambulances — sometimes, but not all the times," Nelson said, adding he'd prefer to have an extra unit ready on standby.

"Financially, right now, that's not the picture of the province."

Nelson said two ambulances are funded by the Saskatchewan Health Authority, but the other two and the first response unit are not. He said they, like emergency services across the province, are in conversation with the SHA about services in the area.

The SHA did not respond to the CBC by publication time.

Woman, 82, dies in hospital after falling onboard TTC bus, police say .
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