Residents who live around Gardom Lake are concerned that an ambulance was not called on March 19, 2021 by a 911 dispatcher for a woman with severe burns. (Contributed)

Residents who live around Gardom Lake are concerned that an ambulance was not called on March 19, 2021 by a 911 dispatcher for a woman with severe burns. (Contributed)

Lack of 911 response to severe burns leaves Gardom Lake residents worried

Dispatch unable to find Shuswap address so no ambulance called, no response from promised nurse

Faced with a terrifying emergency, Patty Mead expected to get help when she called 911.

But it was not to be.

Mead lives at Gardom Lake and rents out a separate house to tenants. On March 19, she and her tenants were enjoying a campfire nearby. She went home to go to bed about 10 p.m.

The woman, who Mead wished not to name, was alone by the fire when her adult son, who went inside the house for a couple of minutes, heard her cry out.

Heading back outside, he was horrified to see his mother trying to get out of the burning fire.

Mead explains that the woman must have had her back to the fire and, because the fire pit has a bit of a lip, stepped back, lost her balance and fell in.

Her son managed to pull her out, burning his hands doing so, but she was badly burnt, in shock and panicking. Mead said she hit her head, had severe burns on her arm and side, as well as lesser burns on her face.

Because there is no cell service where Mead lives, she went and grabbed her land-line phone and came back. She called 911 and reached a dispatcher, but no help was to be found.

Read more: The turtle didn’t cross the road, thanks for Gardom Lake group

Read more: Longtime resident loon at Gardom Lake found dead from lead poison

Mead surmised afterwards that perhaps the reason was because the address at Gardom Lake is listed in Enderby – in the 700 block of Park Road – and the land line is based in Salmon Arm.

Mead said she tried to maintain her composure while the dispatcher, based in Surrey, asked questions such as whether there was a park nearby, was she in a campground with a fire pit, and such.

Mead said she was then told that an ambulance would not be sent because the dispatcher could not find the address on their map. She was also told that a nurse would be put on the line to help with providing first aid.

However, a nurse didn’t get on the phone; Mead noted that the recording as she waited said the lines were busy that night. She was also told if she got cut off, to phone back.

Mead said the woman’s husband was also calling from a land line and getting the same result.

She estimates they waited about 15 minutes until she decided just to drive the woman to Shuswap Lake General Hospital in Salmon Arm. Altogether, with the wait and the drive, Mead estimates it was 45 minutes until the woman arrived at the hospital.

After that, she was taken to hospital in Kamloops and then flown to the burn unit at Vancouver General where she underwent skin grafts.

Read more: With a fire hall down the street, B.C. mom questions response time for son’s seizure

Read more: After a night of one-hour waits for ambulances, union goes public with concerns

Mead pointed to the need for change in several areas.

One is having dispatch in Surrey, she said, where operators are unfamiliar with the area.

Mead said she doesn’t blame the dispatchers, as they can only work with the information they’re given. However, it’s unacceptable for someone to be told their address can’t be found, when the local ambulance and fire service would have been there in minutes.

Another is the lack of cell service. And the problem with the address, which she thinks perhaps the Columbia Shuswap Regional District could help remedy. She also didn’t think it was right to be put on hold to wait for a nurse in such an emergency situation.

She said she has been told by MLA Greg Kyllo and BC Emergency Health Services that they are looking into the incident.

Mead said the March 19 incident has concerned many people. A lot of seniors live at Gardom Lake as well it being home to a public park and a bible camp.

“It’s worrisome if it happens again to someone else.”


marthawickett@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Emergency callsSalmon Arm

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison. Photo courtesy Conservative Party of Canada.
Kootenay-Columbia MP pans federal budget

Conservative Rob Morrison says budget doesn’t have a plan for long-term spending priorities

A view of the Jordan River from the trail in the area, during the summer. There are two new gravel pits up for consideration by the province. The area is deemed to be ecologically sensitive. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)
LETTER: When did Revelstoke become gravel pit central?

Two new gravel pits are being proposed near the Jordan River

Photo: pixabay.com
Morning Start: Why do dogs like squeaky toys?

Your morning start for Tuesday, April 20, 2021

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
211 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

Currently, there are 875 active cases of the virus in the region

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. As of April 19, more than 230,000 doses have been administered across the Interior Health region. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
More than 230K doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered across Interior Health

A total of 220,216 first doses and 13,775 second doses have been given to residents across the B.C. Interior

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Former B.C. premier says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

Clark testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

This cougar alert was posted near Chilliwack after a cougar was reported in the area on April 10, 2021. (Black Press - File)
Dog killed by cougar near Penticton

The band issued a warning to keep an eye on children and pets in the area

The city asking the public if they want to pursue legal action against the province and their decision to override the city on the Victory Church issue. (Jesse Day Western News)
Penticton to sue province over homeless shelter

City council voted unanimously to go forward with legal action

BC Wildfire Service file.
So far, fire season in Kamloops region about average

Unseasonably warm temperatures as of late are drying out ground fuel

A woman was struck by a vehicle in the Costco Parking lot just before 12 p.m. on April 28, 2020. (File)
Kelowna council expedites road improvements in anticipation of new Costco

Highway 97 and Leckie Road improvements to cost $1.14 million, costs split between the city, Costco and the province

Most Read