The Pictorial, Sunday, March 7, 2004
Peter Rusland ~ Staff Reporter
John Limer painfully lifts a bandaged right hand, describing the insult to his third-degree injury.
"The ambulance blocked my cab and said we couldn’t go to the hospital until we signed a release form saying we refused an ambulance, and that was totally false." In fact, Limer called a cab to take him the short distance to the Cowichan District Hospital while waiting in agony for an ambulance after Tuesday’s dawn heater fire in his folk’s place on Mary Street.
Liner’s Dad, Tom, said the cab was called rather than waiting for an ambulance to arrive from Chemainus. "It took a long time, John was squirming from the pain." Limer was treated fir burns and smoke inhalationg by North Cowichan Firefighters who called for an ambulance at about 6:23 a.m., according to B.C. Ambulance Service’s Records.
"An on-call crew from Chemainus responded because its full-time crew starts work later in the morning," BCAS director Dave Maedel said. Chemainus’ ambulance was called because Duncan’s full-time crew was busy transferring a patient while the station’s on-call crew was handling other local emergencies, he said.
A local paramedic said if both Duncan crews are busy, another local crew should be scrambled and waiting for duty at the Red Rooster restaurant near Chemainus or at another spot. "An area the size of Duncan shouldn’t be left uncovered," said the paramedic, who asked his name be withheld for fear of disciplinary action from Ambulance Service brass for speaking out. But Maedel said it’s hard to write an ironclad policy about cross-coverage. "That decision’s left up to our (Victoria) emergency medical dispatchers and hey make the decisions based on call volume, time of day, and a whole series of factors."
Tom Limer says overtime should be paid for part-time drivers to do transfer work. Meanwhile, Tom Limer’s glad he took the cab to CDH.
"We thought we’d take a cab, it’s cheaper and faster"
Ambulance rides cost $54. If a patient is treated by paramedics and refuses a ride, the tab is $50. Tom Limer figured the cab ride cost about $10.
"The disappointment was not being able to leave without signing that release form."
It seems like this type of thing has been happening more and more lately (or maybe that it is just being publicized more).
Over the last year I have heard a number of firefighters from other department’s who have commented on similar things happen. IE,
~ BCAS taking longer to get on scene (anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes).
~ I have read an article about BCAS changing the dispatch shifts around so that there are half has dispatchers on during the busy evening hours.
~ Paid crews doing PT transport, leaving on call crews to cover calls .
~ Limited availability of ALS crews (which I have run into myself).
~ And then there is the call I heard about (third hand, so I am not sure of how accurate it is), that was a cardiac arrest across the street from a fire hall (which the guys were there re-certing their FR), and the FD wasn’t even called in favour for a 10 minute response time from ambulance.
Has anyone else seen any noticeable changes when working with ambulance crews??