Mr. Doug Cloverchok, Columbia River – Revelstoke MLA
Chairman of the Board of Directors – BC Interior Health
BC Emergency Health Services
I want to express my shock and frustration over the proposed ‘pilot ambulance staff on call’ program as it applies to Revelstoke.
I am sensitive to the matter as I required an ambulance a year and a half ago and by three hours made it to the hospital where the surgeon told me, ‘if you hadn’t gotten here tonight, you wouldn’t have your right leg’.
I spent 25 days in the hospital and watched the Vernon ortho ward continuously roll through patients, and the single common factor for everyone under 75 was that they all got injured on the ski hill. The nurses joked about RMR being named Mt. Leg Break and how the winter was the busy season, but the mountain biking season was quickly catching up. I believe that the Vernon Orthopaedic ward is the busiest ortho ward in BC for a reason; the ski resorts and Canada’s deadliest stretch of road, Rogers Pass.
In my case, someone else injured their shoulder on the ski hill just before me, so they sent him away in the first ambulance. There was also a highway accident where the second/last ambulance in Revelstoke was heading and the doctors in Revelstoke and Vernon insisted that that ambulance turn around and drive me under code red to Vernon.
Every morning when I get out of bed, I appreciate having two legs and not dealing with a prosthetic. I’ve biked my eldest to school dozens of times this year and absolutely do not take for granted the simple pleasures like walking the dog.
Fortunately for me, I was able to get great support from family during those first few months and recover and work from home, but my life and my family’s life would be drastically different if my leg got amputated. And we are only talking about a leg.
With the proposed approach, it is only a matter of time before someone loses a leg; what happens when someone dies because they didn’t make it in time? What if that is someone’s child? This will lead to a legal situation where the powers that decided to go forward with this ‘pilot project’ will have to answer that individual’s death. This legal jeopardy will clearly not be the most cost-effective approach as I assume that is the driving reason behind a reduction in ambulance services, and yet it will not work, and someone will be dead as a result and others may face criminal charges.
On the heels of the last year, plus that we have all endured, it is disgusting to think, any health authority would try to claw back services, this quickly.
I also find it extremely disturbing that this is being advertised as a pilot project when it is clearly permanent and sold to people under different contexts. That said, I guess it will be temporary once you factor in the result of a lawsuit over the death of someone who otherwise could be alive.
I would never vote for any candidate that volunteers to reduce emergency services for our community. The opposite, in fact, I will lobby hard for all residents to stand up and fight for the safety of our community.
The dozen or so people I have already spoken to have been similarly shocked and disappointed. While we may have to wait for the next election to make changes, we will see what happens first, that election or the death and ensuing lawsuit.
I know I would reach out to any victim I read about and let them know that I put it in writing to the powers that this was a bad decision with this as a known outcome, and they decided to proceed regardless.
If it was your child who needed an ambulance and couldn’t get one, would you still feel justified in trying to save a few pennies?
Mike F., Revelstoke
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