Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/3/2016 (1282 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Internal reports have offered a glimpse inside the frightening rollover of an ambulance late last year that injured a nurse.
Brandon Fire and Emergency Services Deputy Chief Scott McDonald said such a rollover is unique.
"I don’t ever remember this occurring with one of our ambulances … I would consider this more of a significant event than anything that’s happened before," McDonald said.
Prairie Mountain Health provided few details immediately following the crash.
However, The Brandon Sun recently obtained copies of investigation reports from Prairie Mountain Health and Brandon Fire and Emergency Services through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
They provide further details of the events surrounding the Nov. 19, 2015, early morning crash along the Trans-Canada Highway that sent a nurse to hospital with a broken leg after she was pinned by equipment that broke loose in the back of the ambulance.
Reports state the rollover happened during a non-emergency transfer of a patient between the Brandon Regional Health Centre and Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg.
Two BFES paramedics — one of them the driver — were in the driver’s compartment of the ambulance.
The patient was on a secured stretcher in the rear of the ambulance.
Two nurses from Prairie Mountain Health were in the back of the ambulance to attend to the patient. One was in the "captain’s chair" directly behind the main stretcher, and the other in a fold-down jump seat near the passenger-side door.
Shortly after the incident, RCMP informed The Brandon Sun that the patient was pregnant, although police didn’t know why she was being transported in the first place.
However, police were able to report that the pregnant woman was in good condition following the rollover.
The accident reports, parts of which were redacted over privacy concerns, don’t specify why the transfer was made other than it was the result of "Brandon’s policy" — presumably that of the hospital or health authority.
PMH says the decision to transfer a patient is a medical one based on their condition at the time and is arranged between sending and receiving staff.
A BFES report provides the following detailed account of what happened:
In the day leading up to the transfer, paramedics were aware of warnings of high wind and possible blowing snow for southwest Manitoba and parts of the province near Winnipeg.
Lifeflight was contacted, but the decision was made to transport the patient by ground ambulance. Reports would later note that the high winds could have posed a problem for a flight.
The ambulance left Brandon around 2 a.m. and, heading east along the Trans-Canada, paramedics noted it was very windy with blowing snow at times. At Carberry, the blowing snow worsened, but the roads were relatively bare and dry.
The paramedics switched drivers at Highway 16, as per the policy to avoid driver fatigue.
In this case, the paramedics were in the middle of a 14-hour night shift that started on Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. and was to end at 8 a.m.
While the highway’s passing lane was snow-covered at times and there were strong gusts, the main lane was dry. Paramedics believed it was safe to continue to Winnipeg.
About 3:30 a.m., a few kilometres west of Elie, the ambulance hit black ice and slid sideways. The driver did her best to recover, but couldn’t.
The ambulance spun 360 degrees, caught the shoulder, rolled twice and landed on its side in the ditch.
The paramedics weren’t injured. One called dispatch to notify them of the crash. One of the paramedics also crawled into the back of the ambulance to help the patient and nurses.
During the rollover, a child incubator and the patient’s stretcher, which had been fixed to the floor by brackets, broke free.
The patient was still strapped into the upside-down stretcher with the incubator on top of her. The paramedics freed her and she appeared uninjured.
One nurse wasn’t hurt, but the other had multiple injuries, which RCMP say consisted of cuts to her face, a cracked rib and a broken leg.
She had been trapped between the stretcher and the incubator, but managed to free herself.
RCMP said it took 25 minutes for another ambulance to arrive at the scene.
The injured nurse was taken to hospital in Portage la Prairie, while the second nurse and patient continued to Winnipeg in another ambulance.
The paramedics were treated in Brandon because they were exposed to the patient’s blood when her IV was dislodged.
While McDonald said privacy concerns prevented him from stating whether that exposure caused any health issues, he noted both paramedics are back at work.
The accident was reviewed by BFES, Prairie Mountain Health, the City of Brandon, Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health, and the Vehicle and Equipment Management Agency.
Nowhere in the reports does it say medical staff did anything wrong, although RCMP note that the injured nurse was the only person not secured with a seatbelt.
One of the review recommendations is to reinforce the use of seatbelts among staff.
One of the major questions raised by the review was about why the equipment broke loose.
A spokesperson for Workplace Safety and Health said no issues were identified with the ambulance or driver involved. No orders of any sort were issued and the file is closed.
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