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Halifax woman waits nearly 3 hours for ambulance after rock climbing fall

Click to play video: 'Halifax woman with broken ankle waits hours for ambulance'
Halifax woman with broken ankle waits hours for ambulance
WATCH: A week after a senior couple spoke out about their experience waiting hours for an ambulance at Point Pleasant Park, a Halifax woman is sharing a similar story. She took a painful fall at a climbing gym last month, and despite being just minutes from the hospital, getting help took hours. Skye Bryden-Blom has the story. – Nov 11, 2022

A week after a senior couple spoke out about their experience waiting hours for an ambulance at Point Pleasant Park, a Halifax woman is sharing a similar story.

Amy Klinger was trying to squeeze in a quick climb before work at Seven Bays Bouldering on Gottingen Street on Oct. 12 when she took a painful fall.

Klinger said when she slipped, she severely broke her ankle. Staff immediately called 911, but after two hours, help still hadn’t arrived despite the hospital being minutes away.

“We managed to get me from the floor to a bench and that was, it was not good, just even moving me that very short distance was indescribably painful,” Klinger said.

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She began to wonder if any help was coming.

“All you can focus on is how badly you want them to get there,” Klinger said. “When you’re in that kind of pain and you’re in that situation and there’s that kind of uncertainty it really adds a layer to it.”

It was about another hour before an ambulance made it to the scene. Klinger was told it was a busy day with more serious calls than usual.

“Those hours of just waiting and just being so unsure,” Klinger said. “That just made the experience so much worse than it needed to be. I feel like so much of that pain was so unnecessary.”

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Klinger wanted to share her story after hearing about a similar situation at Point Pleasant Park last month.

Donna McInnis and her husband Kevin were walking alongside a retaining wall to catch a glimpse of a large aircraft carrier docked in the Halifax Harbour on Oct. 30 when Kevin fell and injured his hip.

Donna reported it took two and a half hours for the ambulance to arrive, something she didn’t think was possible with the park located less than four kilometers away from the QEII emergency department.

Click to play video: 'Couple waits hours for ambulance after injury at Halifax park'
Couple waits hours for ambulance after injury at Halifax park

In a statement to Global News, the facility manager with Seven Bays said staff were surprised by such a long wait for Klinger.

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“Obviously, this speaks to the overwhelming pressure on our first responders,” Shahin Mohammadi said. “We were surprised at the exceptionally long response time that day and hope that many of these recent reports help to initiate some action to remedy the issue.”

EHS indicates on that day that the call volume was high locally and provincially and hospitals were experiencing lengthy offload times. Data posted by the Department of Health shows that week, EHS responded to more than 2,400 calls, with an average offload time of 1 hour and 45 minutes.

The business manager of the union representing Nova Scotia paramedics said cases like Klinger’s weigh heavily on workers.

“Those situations are very hard on our paramedics because our paramedics want to get there quickly,” said Kevin McMullen. “They want to do the job that they’re trained to do and unfortunately when you have a delay like that, that plays on their mindset.”

Members are leaving the province for higher-paying jobs and better working conditions, according to McMullen.

Meantime, the executive director of provincial operations with EHS Operations reports that a review takes place when a case is like Klinger’s.

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“We truly understand how stressful those situations are and we take them very seriously,” said Charbel Daniel. “When any situation like that arises, we do a full quality review of the call itself.”

McMullen and Daniel add work is being done to help reduce strain on the system. Both point to the deployment of single paramedic response units for lower-risk calls as well as adding a physician, registered nurse, and clinical support paramedic to the EHS 911 team as ways to enhance health care in the province.

Klinger said her experience is not unique and more needs to be done to help paramedics.

“I just think we should be able to depend on our health-care system a little bit more.”

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