With her son convulsing on the floor of a Jean Coutu pharmacy in Montreal’s West Island last Thursday, Sabrina Stoute, a registered nurse, demanded the store’s pharmacist call 911.
“She told me that she was on hold,” she told Global News.
“Still on hold, still on hold; it was about 15 minutes — 15 to 20 [minutes], even.”
The mother of four said she was shocked 911 put her on hold.
“All the while, he was unresponsive and seizing on the ground,” Stoute recalls.
It took another 10 minutes for first responders to arrive and an additional 10 minutes after that for the ambulance to get to the Jean Coutu.
“I was in shock, the mum was in shock, she couldn’t believe it. This is the first time 911 put us on hold. It’s very unusual,” said Chantal Zeidan, the pharmacist.
Montreal police spokesperson Manuel Couture said that in 96 per cent of cases across Canada, calls put on hold are usually answered within 10 seconds.
“Here, in Montreal, we have three seconds before we answer, so we have really good statistics, but it happens,” he told Global News.
Couture pointed out that every 10 minutes, there are an average of 30 people calling 911.
“During times when there is a high amount of calls, it happens that you can be put on hold for a few seconds,” he said, advising that people stay on the line to keep their priority position.
“Normally, there should be somebody who answers right away or within a few seconds.”
Cameron, 19, has a recent history of seizures and was just released from hospital on May 10; doctors have yet to figure out what’s causing them.
The teen lives with global developmental delay and microcephaly, but that hasn’t stopped him from being an active part of his community.
“He’s very involved, he helped people during the floods. He’s quite the inspiring young man,” his mother told Global News.
After being transferred to the Montreal Neurological Institute from the Lakeshore General Hospital, Cameron fell into a catatonic state — a state of stupor or unresponsiveness in a person who is otherwise awake, not even responding to painful stimuli.
She has been by his side ever since.
“It’s been really hard,” Stoute said tearfully, adding that her youngest son is only 14.
“It’s all on my shoulders. I’m running left, right and centre and trying to keep the boat afloat. It’s really difficult. It’s a major strain.”
Monday evening, Cameron finally woke up. Tests are still underway to figure out what is causing his seizures.
“I’m really worried about him. I just want to know what’s going to happen to him and go from there,” she said.
What also brings Stoute to tears is the help she’s received from mothers in her neighbourhood.
“Mums in the community made meals, I have so much food, I have nowhere to put it,” she said.
“These people are just so kind. When you’re a good person, like Cameron is, you do good things and karma comes back to you.”