Airdrie boy with broken leg rushed to hospital in fire truck because no ambulances available

Click to play video: 'Airdrie boy with broken leg rushed to hospital in firetruck after ambulances unavailable' Airdrie boy with broken leg rushed to hospital in firetruck after ambulances unavailable
WATCH ABOVE: A mother in Airdrie is speaking out after her son, who broke his leg, had to be taken to hospital in a firetruck because no ambulances were available. Michael King reports – Jan 21, 2022

An Alberta mother is raising concerns after her son broke his leg and had to be taken to hospital in a fire truck because no ambulances were available.

Lia Lousier was walking with her 10-year-old son Braeden on Thursday afternoon when he slipped and fell on an icy sidewalk.

When Lousier’s other son called 911, they were told an ambulance would be on its way.

Read more: Alberta sees historic demand for paramedics: AHS

The Airdrie mother said EMS called back 15 minutes later, asking for an update. That’s when Lousier noticed her son starting to go pale and started going through all her options.

“I begged them to call the fire truck knowing that at least there would be a paramedic because if he needed respiratory help,” said Lousier. “I couldn’t do anything about it, but they could.”

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Mike Pirie, the Airdrie Fire Department’s acting deputy chief of operations, confirmed that EMS dispatch contacted the fire department to ask for support since no EMS crews were available.

Pirie explained that once the firefighters got on scene, they again called for EMS.

When it was confirmed that no ambulances had freed up, they made the rare decision to transport Braden to the Airdrie Community Health Centre in the fire truck.

Click to play video: 'Alberta paramedics union concerned with increase in calls, ‘red alert’ ambulance shortages' Alberta paramedics union concerned with increase in calls, ‘red alert’ ambulance shortages
Alberta paramedics union concerned with increase in calls, ‘red alert’ ambulance shortages – Jan 11, 2022

“There’s a risk-benefit that takes place (when deciding to transport a patient). In this case, it made sense,” said Pirie. “But the system really isn’t built for this to be to be normal.”

When they arrived at the health centre, Lousier said they were able to give Braeden painkillers and take X-rays. Eventually, he was taken by ambulance to the Alberta Children’s Hospital where he is recovering.

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“He’s now in a cast from his upper abdomen all the way down to his ankle,” said Louiser. “He’s not exactly thrilled with the world at this time.”

She added that the four-and-a-half-hour ordeal has highlighted how thinly stretched first responders are, and she worries about what would have happened if it had been a more serious injury.

“If my son was critical, I would have stood there while he died and I wouldn’t have been able to do a thing about it.”

EMS Shortages

Alberta Health Services said in a statement that the call happened during a time of unprecedented demand and 911 calls due in part to slippery sidewalks.

The health authority added that it was one of two calls in Airdrie on Thursday where firefighters transported patients.

AHS added that EMS have actively reassigned supervisors to front-line and first responder roles as they deal with the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic’s Omicron wave.

“(Factors) include the COVID-19 pandemic, opioid concerns and emergency calls related to people returning to regular levels of activity,” the health authority said. “All call types have increased, and staff illness and fatigue, as well as weather considerations, are also contributing to challenges in the EMS system.”

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READ MORE: Alberta paramedic union sounds the alarm over ambulance resources

Dr. Eddy Lang, the department head for emergency medicine at the Cumming School of Medicine, said recent changes to EMS policy should help limit the number of cases where non-EMS units have to transport patients.

“If we can solve that problem, we would have far more 911 response and far better paramedic availability in the city,” said Lang. “We wouldn’t have to rely on our fire services to transport a young man with a broken leg.”

AHS added it is willing to speak with Lousier and her family to address their concerns.

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