Injured man crawls for 2 hours to get help — then faces delayed EHS response

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Injured man crawls for 2 hours to get help — then faces delayed EHS response

A Cape Breton man wants Emergency Health Services to adopt a better GPS system after he said he had to wait an hour for an ambulance to drive 25 kilometres, because they couldn't find the road he was on.

Ron Whitfield, an Albert Bridge man who is in his 70s, fell and broke his hip while walking his dog on Malcolms Road.

"I screamed for quite a while and so I thought well, the hell with it. I'll just get down on my hands and knees, which I did, and I crawled," Whitfield recalled.

​"Oh, was it ever painful. It was awful."

He crawled for two hours to get to a neighbours and call for help.

Once that call went out he was still left waiting while an ambulance followed its GPS mapping system down a nearby dead-end private road.

GPS giving wrong directions

Whitfield said he waited for almost an hour for the ambulance to make the 25-kilometre trip from Sydney.

He's waited long times for ambulances before. In 2012, he broke his ankle and he said it took paramedics nearly three hours to reach him.

"They are always sent by GPS down the wrong road," Whitfield said.

Problem 'rectified': EHS 

Whitfield said in 2012, the first ambulance got stuck.

"He had to call a tow truck and another ambulance. The second ambulance that came, he kept going straight ... right down to Mira Gut. One ridiculous mistake after another," Whitfield said.

Part of the confusion stems from the fact Florence Road is a private lane that used to connect with Malcolms Road.

A spokesperson for EHS said it's using a mobile mapping system to support its paramedics.

"We can confirm that this segment has been updated and tested and we are satisfied that this situation has been rectified," Brianna LeBlanc told CBC News in an email.

Residents skeptical

Dana McEachren, a neighbor of Whitfield's, said there are several summer homes on Malcolms Road and a dozen year-round residents.

McEachren said he has been trying to get the problem fixed for years.

"I did in 2012. I took them a map and, you know, said that the road was blocked off. They said it would be taken care of. Obviously it wasn't. Last week I went back to EHS again with another map."

McEachren said the Department of Transportation needs to communicate with EHS when road names and conditions change. 

Asked whether he believes the problem has now been fixed, McEachren said he probably wouldn't know until the next ambulance is called to his neighbourhood.