Vancouver woman carried to hospital due to ambulance wait times

Jul 2 2021, 12:03 pm

A Vancouver woman is speaking out after a traumatic experience wherein she had to be carried to the hospital due to extended wait times for ambulance arrival.

Cathy Bock is a former nurse who served for 40 years, and she lives close to the Vancouver Downtown Eastside. She recently dealt with an experience that has her issuing a warning to anyone else who may need critical care.

Bock’s experience took place on June 20. She says that at the time, she felt very ill and knew it wasn’t just a stomach flu, but something more serious. She then lost consciousness and hit her head on a tiled floor.

“Anyone with any triage experience would know from my symptoms that I was seriously ill. Excruciating pain, loss of consciousness, possible head injury, likely fluid/electrolyte imbalances, and signs of shock,” Bock told Daily Hive in an email.

She was initially reluctant to call for an ambulance, knowing how stressed the healthcare system in BC was already. Eventually, her husband called for one.

Bock, who resides in West Hastings, recalls a steady flow of ambulances with sirens going through the neighbourhood responding to calls in the DTES, none of which stopped for her.

After waiting, and then following up with another phone call, her husband was told the wait would be four hours.

The next thing she recalled was her husband dragging and carrying her into the car, and then driving her to the emergency department at VGH, where she says she received excellent care.

The Ambulance and Paramedics of BC (APBC) have been calling on the government for more resources for years.

“Sadly, the situation Cathy raises is not isolated and [is] one paramedics and dispatchers are dealing with worse than ever. We are definitely experiencing an incredible record number of calls [these] past few days and weeks on top of our shortage of staff to work, resulting in out-of-service ambulances and affecting delays as outlined. This is compounding a stressed system and impacting patient outcomes, and paramedic and dispatchers’ wellness,” said Troy Clifford, a paramedic and president of the APBC.

Bock walks away from this traumatic experience with a message to anyone who might need to call 911 for an ambulance.

“Ask what the wait time will be. Unless you are in the DTES, even if you are seriously ill, you will not be a priority. The best action is to somehow bypass the ambulance altogether. Crawl or be carried if needed into a personal vehicle, or an Uber or cab, in order to make your way to hospital.”

 

Amir AliAmir Ali

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