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Family wants advanced-care paramedics after daughter seized in ambulance for 41 minutes

Three-year-old Amelia Chiasson was rushed to the hospital when she started seizing at 18 months old. Laura Brown/Global News

BLACKVILLE, N.B. – A New Brunswick family is speaking out after they learned a paramedic who responded to their 911 call was trained to do more but couldn’t because of provincial regulation.

Chelsey LeBlanc’s daughter Amelia was 18 months old when she had her first seizure.

“She was turning blue, and then purple, and was convulsing,” LeBlanc said in an interview with Global News.

Paramedics intubated Amelia and put her in the back of the ambulance. Then they told LeBlanc, that was all they could do.

“The paramedic said, ‘I’m panicking, I don’t know what else I can do, we don’t know what else we can do to help you right now, so can you do something to keep her calm?’

So I sang to her the entire time, which was the hardest singing I’ve ever done.”

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It took them about 40 minutes to get from Blackville to the Miramichi Hospital. Amelia seized the entire way.

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Kyle Enright was one of the paramedics who responded to Amelia’s call. He’s trained as an Advanced Care Paramedic, which means he can perform more medical services, ranging from pain control to life-saving interventions.

But because New Brunswick doesn’t yet recognize the Advanced Care system, Enright couldn’t provide an advanced level of care for Amelia even through he has the training.

“This child only needed a simple medication to stop the seizure, in any other province I could have administered it, in New Brunswick I’m not allowed to administer it. So this child suffered needlessly for 41 minutes,” Enright said, in an interview with Global News on May 30.

Amelia was diagnosed with epilepsy a year later. It was at that time when LeBlanc also learned about the Advanced Care system, and that Enright could have provided Amelia with an advanced level of care.

“Finding that out was definitely frustrating and upsetting, especially when you have the doctor say, the only reason your child is here is because she’s strong willed and fought through the whole thing.

“But had you been further away and she gave up, she wouldn’t have made it.”

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The Paramedics Association of New Brunswick has been lobbying for the installment of Advanced Care Paramedics (ACP) within the province’s health care system.

Introducing ACP’s was a promise Premier David Alward made during his election campaign in 2010.

The promise came after a New Brunswick family asked for a review of the province’s trauma services in 2005. They were upset at the amount of time it took for their loved one to reach a hospital that had the right services to treat him.

The Hay Group drew up a report, identifying 112 recommendations on how the province could improve trauma services, including:

“Urgent consideration should be given to the training and employment of a cohort of advanced care paramedics.”

The report advised the province to act within one year.

LeBlanc says the system needs ACP’s in the case she ever has to call 911 again.

READ MORE: Association, groups ask province to consider Advanced Care Paramedics

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