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Ashcroft, B.C. senior dies while waiting for ambulance

Click to play video: 'Ashcroft senior’s death raises concerns about health care access' Ashcroft senior’s death raises concerns about health care access
Global News has learned an elderly man in Ashcroft suffered a medical emergency Sunday morning and died with the nearest ambulance at least half an hour away. As Kamil Karamali reports, it's not the first time the small town has experienced this type of tragedy – Aug 14, 2022

It’s a small town with a growing problem.

Sunday morning, a man believed to be in his 80s suffered a cardiac arrest in the Village of Ashcroft, just west of Kamloops, according to the mayor.

Read more: Concerns raised over string of temporary ER closures at rural B.C. hospitals

Two members of the fire rescue service heard the call and went to help. When the paramedics were reached, they said there would be a wait.

“The nearest ambulance was in Clinton, just north of us, and had an estimated time of arrival of about 35 minutes,” said Barbara Roden, Ashcroft’s mayor.

The mayor said an ambulance arrived nearly 30 minutes later and the man was pronounced dead.

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The mayor said the most frustrating part for many was that there was an ambulance station within sight of where the incident took place, with no ambulance parked there.

“No one is expecting an ambulance parked there in the driveway 24/7. We understand that, but it’s very scary for people to hear about these incidents,” Roden said.

“They are scared that the services they depend on will not be there when they need them.”

Read more: Multiple B.C. hospitals scaling back ER services due to staff shortages

It isn’t clear whether an ambulance arriving any earlier would have saved the man’s life, but the paramedics union said it would have obviously increased the odds.

This is the second time in less than a month an Ashcroft resident has died, after waiting nearly 30 minutes for paramedics to arrive.

A woman, who suffered a heart attack, also within sight of the ambulance station died on July 17.

Read more: Clearwater, B.C. mayor speaks out about repeated hospital ER closures

It’s been a problem seen across the province over the weekend.

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“I’m hearing reports of half an hour to an hour for the most serious calls and obviously less serious emergencies are seeing longer wait times,” said Troy Clifford, Ambulance Paramedics of B.C.’s president.

The paramedics union wants to see more incentives for part-time staff that backfill for full-timers.

“We’re losing them to other professions, we’re losing them to other industries,” Clifford said. “They’re not just able to sustain their families with the cost of living (at these positions).”

Read more: Emergency department in Oliver closed Sunday due to staffing issues

BC Emergency Health Services gave a comment regarding the situation, late Sunday afternoon.

“We did dispatch immediately and we dispatched the closest available ambulance,” said Leanne Heppell, BCEHS’s chief ambulance officer.

“As per our protocol, we did advise local firefighters in the area. Firefighters did attend the scene and did start CPR, followed shortly after by the B.C. ambulance crew.

“Our ambulance was available to arrive at this event in 28 minutes.”

BC Emergency Health Services’ said it will be conducting an investigation looking into the incident.

Click to play video: 'Woman dies of cardiac arrest after ambulance and ER issues in Ashcroft, B.C.' Woman dies of cardiac arrest after ambulance and ER issues in Ashcroft, B.C.
Woman dies of cardiac arrest after ambulance and ER issues in Ashcroft, B.C – Jul 20, 2022

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