In early April, I was awoken by a phone call from my mother frantically telling me my father had collapsed. I told her to call 911 and that I would be there in 10 minutes.
Unfortunately, this was almost a déjà-vu phone call of one I had received just the morning before. My father had been in remission from his multiple myeloma cancer for 12 years when one day ‘it’ decided to pop back into our lives and the bone marrow in his legs, meaning he could no longer stand alone. I called 911 that day, too, and jumped in my car and drove the 10 minutes from my house to my parents’ home.
This is where the point to my story begins:
On the first day, first responders arrived within five minutes to our amazement and gratitude. But my stubborn retired military father refused to go to the hospital and kept saying it was a disc in his back, which explains the phone call to 911 the day after.
On the second day, though, response time was quite different. In fact I called back twice to ask where the ambulance was. Well over 90 minutes later, they arrived and I asked why it took so long and was told they were sent from St. Vital because all the ‘buses’ were tied up in St. James?
What? The Grace Hospital is 10 minutes away...
When we arrived at emergency at the Grace, I saw three ambulances out front and the paramedics inside, either filling out paperwork or ‘waiting’ for various reasons to get back on the road.
Being a nosy writer, I asked our awesome paramedic what was going on. Thus began a long and enlightening conversation about how paramedics hope to become self-regulated.
It’s a complicated issue but in my point of view, it seems sensible to hire someone to do all the necessary paperwork, thus allowing the paramedics to do what they do.
We have all heard many news stories about how unhappy Winnipeggers are with ambulance response times. I think it is necessary to hear the other side and to support our paramedics.
They are trained to help us and the last thing they want to be doing in standing around waiting or filling out paperwork. They would rather be out there on the streets, rushing to our sides to help us in any way they can.
On a final note, my father recently ‘flew his last flight’ (he was a retired fighter pilot) up to heaven and I would like to use this forum to thank everyone from the 911 team, the amazing staff at Grace Hospital (including Debbie in CancerCare) and his caring homecare workers, all of whom made his final days the best they could be.
Virginia Sperl is a community correspondent for Silver Heights.