An injured hip and a 40-minute wait time for an ambulance have a local resident calling on the province to improve emergency services in Brandon.
Joseph Nault, 67, fell in the Real Canadian Superstore parking lot last Thursday evening and was left waiting on the ground for around 40 minutes for an ambulance to transport him to the nearby hospital.
Temperatures that evening hovered around -35 C.
“There was a slope of ice there I couldn’t see in the dark. It sloped downward, so when my boots hit that, my feet went out and I went down on my right shoulder and right hip,” Joseph said.
As he lay there in pain, waiting for the ambulance to arrive, his suffering only intensified. The cold seeped into the back of his body, leaving him with water blisters — a step below frostbite — he said.
“Had I gotten into an ambulance in five or 10 minutes, I wouldn’t have experienced much of that or any of that. I would have been in [the] emergency [room] that much sooner. I never got anything for pain that whole time I was laying there,” Joseph said.
There were no ambulances available in Brandon at the time of his accident, according to a Shared Health spokesperson.
Joseph said he ended up being transported to the Brandon Regional Health Centre by a rig sent to Brandon from Rivers.
“It was frustrating,” Joseph said. “I don’t blame the ambulance people. I don’t blame the health care, they’re at the mercy of what they can do. The government is the one who controls all that.”
Joseph remained at the health centre for surgery until he was discharged on Tuesday to Rivers.
“I’m still in a lot of pain and because of the blisters on my bum and back, it’s irritating and itchy. It’s uncomfortable,” Joseph said.
He is slowly healing but is still unable to put much weight on his leg.
“The sooner I can put weight on it, the sooner I can start walking, and the sooner I will recover,” Joseph said.
His daughter, Charlene Nault, said Fire Rescue crews were able to respond to the scene in about five minutes, but they did not have the proper equipment to transport Joseph to the nearby health centre.
“I was so pissed off,” Charlene said. “I was so angry that he laid there on the ground in -40 C for 40 minutes, waiting for an ambulance, when he was like eight blocks from the hospital.”
Nault noted her father was in a bad car accident about seven years ago that resulted in him having a metal rod placed in his back. The accident left Joseph with a broken back and neck, she said, and his spine has also fused. Because of these medical conditions, paramedics could not move Joseph without the proper equipment.
Charlene praised Superstore employees for trying to help Joseph as he lay in the parking lot until medical aid could arrive. Staff provided blankets to keep him warm while he waited.
Joseph said he believes his ordeal was brought on by government cuts and costs, and that has resulted in Westman no longer having adequate ambulance services to meet the needs of citizens.
“It would have been five minutes wait time if I would have got an ambulance in Brandon, but it turned into 40 minutes wait time because they had to come from outside of Brandon,” Joseph said.
According to Shared Health, paramedics arrived on the scene at Superstore within seven minutes of the call to 911 and they provided care until an ambulance arrived. There were several simultaneous calls at the same time as Joseph’s call, a situation that is not uncommon in urban centres like Brandon.
Shared Health is exploring steps to increase EMS capacity, the spokesperson said, and encourages all residents to call 911 if they or someone they know is experiencing a medical emergency.
“Calls are prioritized to ensure high acuity and trauma patients continue to receive timely care, with our paramedic fleet strategically positioned to ensure all communities have access to emergency services — even if a local unit is temporarily unavailable.”
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Chelsea Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun