Family of injured Calgary hockey player outraged after ambulance never arrives

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Family of injured Calgary hockey player outraged after ambulance never arrives
WATCH: A Calgary family is speaking out after their 14-year-old son sustained a hit while playing hockey and blacked out. They say they waited nearly 45 minutes for an ambulance that never showed up. Jill Croteau reports – Sep 13, 2022

“Extremely high” call volume is to blame for an extremely long wait for a young hockey player stuck laying on the ice unable to move, after a hit from behind.

Saiva Brar was trying out for a AAA hockey team on Saturday at Calgary’s Stu Peppard Arena. The 14-year-old was doing his best to impress the coaches, while his dad, sister and grandmother watched from the stands.

It was minutes into the game when Saiva was hit from behind.

“I woke up on the ice. I couldn’t talk, couldn’t scream and couldn’t move my body for a long while,” Saiva said.

Saiva’s father said he didn’t want to panic, but was concerned.

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“As a dad watching, you hope he can get up,” Dampy Brar said. “He didn’t get up. He wasn’t moving.

Saiva on the ice with his trainer.
Saiva on the ice with his trainer. Courtesy: Dampy Brar

The trainer stabilized his son, keeping him calm while holding his spine and neck steady. One of the coaches called 911.

Seconds turned into many minutes. After waiting for half an hour, Dampy said a fellow parent in the stands — an off-duty firefighter — intervened by dialing dispatch.

“He was frustrated and he said ‘Let me call.’

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“When he found out it wasn’t even dispatched, you saw the intensity in his eyes and he said, ‘Okay, we need to call the fire department and call my boys to get this kid looked after,'” Dampy recalled.

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“I was on the ice for 45 minutes. That’s a long period of time with no ambulance and no stretcher,” Saiva said. “It was a painful experience for me,”

His mother, Gurdeep Brar, wasn’t at the arena and was getting updates from her husband.

She was sick with worry and is now outraged at the health care system.

“Where are the politicians? Are they not the voice of the people? Where is there outrage? Where is their action plan?” Gurdeep said.

Saiva in a neck brace at Alberta Children’s Hospital.
Saiva in a neck brace at Alberta Children’s Hospital. Courtesy: Dampy Brar

“It’s shameful. What country are we living in that we can have a 14-year-old kid lying on cold ice and nobody showed up to help?”

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The family’s social media posts have been flooded with responses.

“The messages I’m getting are (things like), ‘People are dying in because the ambulances aren’t coming.’ This is a frustrated moment for Canadians right now,” Dampy said.

The family hopes to trigger action.

“How many health care workers all over the world come here and are immigrants who are medically trained, and our government doesn’t recognize their degrees? I understand rules and regulations, but the human body is the same. Why can’t these people be fast tracked?” Gurdeep said.

In a statement, Alberta Health Services spokesperson Kerry Williamson acknowledging the delay and expressing their apologies.

“AHS EMS is currently experiencing extremely high volumes, which is impacting responses times. In this instance, EMS can confirm that all available ambulances in Calgary were already attending to patients and there was a delay in response,” the statement read.

“We apologize for the discomfort the patient experienced while waiting for an ambulance to arrive. EMS would welcome the opportunity to speak with the family and requests they reach out through AHS patient relations.”

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The Brar family said their teenage son ended up being transported to Alberta Children’s Hospital in a fire department vehicle.

“We are spending longer on scene at medical calls waiting for AHS to arrive,” Calgary Fire Chief Steve Dongworth said. “There’s no beef with medics on scene, but the system needs some care and attention in terms of number of resources available.”

The Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) is leading an independent review of how EMS responded to a fatal dog attack in June.

It took 30 minutes for an ambulance to get to 86-year-old Betty Ann Williams, who had been fatally attacked by three dogs.

The HQCA will review the processes and protocols around EMS response. It was scheduled to be completed by the end of September, A spokesperson said there is not update to provide at this time.

“This is an opportunity for us to voice an opinion about the system the system has to get better,” Dampy said.

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