Woman dies waiting for ambulance in Northern B.C.

The B.C. Ambulance Service says it is facing staffing challenges which make responding to emergencies in the Peace region more difficult than in other parts of the province. (CBC)

The mayor of Hudson's Hope wants answers after a woman died waiting more than an hour for an ambulance to arrive.

The woman, in her 70s, suffered a heart attack on Friday. RCMP and the volunteer fire department responded and administered CPR, but the community's only ambulance had been transferred to Tumbler Ridge, 160 km away.

An emergency responder was sent from Chetwynd, 65 kilometres away, but it was too late and the woman died.

"I just don't imagine what that gentleman did, waiting while they worked on his wife," said Hudson's Hope Mayor Karen Anderson.

Anderson wants to know why their only responder and ambulance was sent to Tumbler Ridge that day.

"I believe that there's two other larger areas, Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, and they should be assisting in these cases."

The B.C. Ambulance Service admits, due to staffing challenges, full ambulance coverage was not available in Hudson's Hope on June 8th.

It says a part-time paramedic was on scene within 27 minutes of the initial 911 call and spent 35 minutes trying to resuscitate the woman while an ambulance made its way from Chetwynd.

The ambulance service says recruitment has been a challenge, particularly in the Peace region, where they're competing with the oil and gas industry for workers.

"We acknowledge that we're having staffing challenges. We do attempt to ensure that we do provide adequate coverage, and sometimes we have to ship around our resources to balance it out," said Mike Michalko, the northern region executive director of the B.C. Ambulance Service.

"With the lower call volumes in Hudson's Hope, we were trying to move off resources to ensure we covered the entire area, not just a single location."

Michalko says the B.C. Ambulance Service will meet with the community's mayor and council in hopes of finding a solution.

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