Source: cbc.ca (click for full story)SUMMERSIDE, PE - P.E.I.'s ambulance service has reviewed why it took an emergency vehicle more than 20 minutes to arrive at a fatal accident scene in May, and has made changes to correct the problems it faced that day. The review was prompted by an accident involving Brandon Gallant, 9, who was killed after getting too close to a power line while climbing a tree in his back yard in Summerside.
Union lashes out as helicopter is called to aid of sick woman
An incident in which a helicopter was sent to Ballyconigar beach to fly a woman to hospital, has been described as bureaucratic lunacy by a union official representing fire-fighters in Wexford.
Michael Wall of SIPTU said the incident last week in which a fire brigade was eventually summoned to assist when the helicopter landed at Wexford Rugby Club, highlights union concerns about emergency service policy.
The helicopter had been unable to land at Wexford General Hospital because of construction work at the hospital campus.
Mr. Wall said SIPTU is concerned about a developing trend of not calling the fire brigade service to road accidents and other incidents, except as a last resort.
The incident began when HSE ambulance service in Wexford received an alert after a woman took ill in a chalet at Ballyconnigar at 7.06 a.m. last Thursday morning. An ambulance was dispatched immediately, however, the crew asked for assistance at 8.15 a.m. as access was across a temporary bridge to the beach.
A second ambulance was sent and according to the HSE, ambulance control also called for support from the local Coast Guard, which is based 4 miles away and has a four-wheel drive vehicle carrying rescue equipment.
When the Coast Guard arrived and after assessing the situation, helicopter support was requested.
The HSE said a fire crew was summoned at this stage because normal helicopter landing procedures require the attendance of a fire tender."
The first ambo crew (2 men) asked their control to call for fire brigade assistance at 8.15a.m., that assistance call was refused and another ambo crew was dispatched (2 men).
The assistance call for the fire brigade was basically for man power as the terrain was soaking wet and very uneven, the weather conditions were storm like at the time. When the second ambo crew arrived they still couldnt get the woman out and they again requested fire brigade assistance, which again was refused and the Coast Guard were sent to assist (2 men). This brought the total of rescuers up to 6 but they still couldnt get the woman down the beach and up the cliffs to the waiting ambulance. The Coast Guard now decided to call in the Coast Guard helicopter (12-13000 per trip). The poor woman was winched into the helicopter after spending 3 hours on the beach in the middle of a storm.
Now this is the ironic bit, the crew of the helicopter refused point blank to land the helicopter unless a fire tender was standing by at the landing site and so after more than 3 hours of arsing around they (ambo control) finally called us out. The woman was finally in hospital after her 3 ½ hour ordeal, the beach in question is only 20 minutes away from Wexford General Hospital by the way. After speaking to the first ambo crew, they were sure that if the fire brigade had been called out first, the woman would have been in hospital a lot sooner.
So a rescue that could have been achieved in less than an hour, by 8 men (6 fire, 2 ambo) and cost about 1000 turned into a 3 ½ hour saga, with a cast of 20 and costing in the region of 14-15000 all because ambulance control refuse to call out the brigade for ambo assist.
The most sickening thing about this story of bureaucratic lunacy , incompetence and indifference is that the lady at the centre of this story died from the heart attack she suffered on a Wexford beach only 20 minutes away from a major hospital.
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