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Paramedics warn of overcrowding at Royal Columbian Hospital

Ambulances were parked at Royal Columbian Hospital waiting for patient beds to become available.
Ambulances were parked at Royal Columbian Hospital waiting for patient beds to become available.

Paramedics are sounding the alarm, saying overcrowding at New Westminster’s Royal Columbian Hospital is the worst they’ve ever seen.

On Friday, 11 ambulances were parked at the hospital waiting for patient beds to become available. One paramedic, who asked not to speak on camera, told Global News a colleague had been waiting with the same patient for more than nine hours.

“Minutes and seconds can make the difference between life and death,” Bronwyn Barter of the Ambulance Paramedics of BC said. “So if the ambulances are held up at the hospital, then yes this could be putting patients’ lives at risk.”

Tasleem Juma of Fraser Health Authority said that ambulances do line up outside the emergency from time to time, but “certainly it doesn’t mean that they’re all there for the emergency department.”

She went on to say a system is in place to work with paramedics to handle emergency calls when ambulance lineups do occur.

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– With files from Rumina Daya