Ambulance response investigated after death

Alberta Health Services is probing ambulance response in Sylvan Lake after a resident claimed it took nearly 30 minutes for help to arrive for a man who collapsed and stopped breathing on a residential street.

Alberta Health Services is probing ambulance response in Sylvan Lake after a resident claimed it took nearly 30 minutes for help to arrive for a man who collapsed and stopped breathing on a residential street.

Ryder’s Ridge resident Garry Virag said a man had been shovelling snow on Rafferty Court in the afternoon of March 19, then he was spotted lying unconscious on the sidewalk.

A resident administered CPR and 911 was called.

Virag said that after 20 minutes, ambulance sirens were heard but the ambulance drove by the Ryder’s Ridge neighbourhood where bystanders were working to revive the man. The man’s condition improved briefly and then he went into cardiac arrest a second time.

It was a further 10 minutes before the first of two ambulances found the scene after being given instructions over a cellphone and waved down by residents.

“I realize that GPS doesn’t show Rafferty Court. It’s not on GPS yet. But there are things called maps, or listen to the … instructions that are given to you,” said Virag, who is still steamed at the response time.

“It should never have happened.”

The victim, who appeared to be in his 50s, later died.

Virag said he doesn’t know if a faster response would have made a difference — but it bothers him that it might have.

“The guy deserved a chance and he didn’t get it.

“It was very upsetting.”

Alberta Health Services says it is looking into the incident.

“Our sympathy goes out to the family of the patient involved. AHS is reviewing this incident to determine details of the call and the EMS response,” says an emailed response from communications adviser Heather Kipling.

“Out of respect for the family and as the review is ongoing, AHS will not comment further at this time.”

Virag said he wrote a letter to the town to try to ensure that something is done to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Sylvan Lake Mayor Susan Samson has assured him the town is following up on the incident.

Better signage to the year-old neighbourhood was already planned and will be in place soon.

Virag, 65, who was once an RCMP officer and is a former volunteer firefighter and Bowden town councillor, is also encouraged that health officials are reviewing what happened.

“We got a ball rolling here and that’s what has to happen. If they don’t get any feedback about what’s wrong, or what’s going on, nothing ever changes.”

Samson said the town will send a letter expressing its concern to Alberta Health Services and Health Minister Fred Horne.

Samson said slow ambulance response times are worrying, especially in Sylvan Lake, which lacks an urgent care centre and relies on Red Deer’s hospital for emergency care.

“It just really compounds the problem,” she said.

The town wants to get to the bottom of why the ambulances apparently took so long and whether it was because they had to be called in from outside the community.

Innisfail-Sylvan Lake Wildrose MLA Kerry Towle said her party has heard a number of concerns from Albertans that the province’s central ambulance dispatch system isn’t working and ambulances are struggling to find addresses.

Part of the problem with the system is that ambulances with local knowledge are often “flexed” into Red Deer and other crews less familiar with an area get called in to cover for them.

Towle wants to know if that scenario happened in this case. She also plans to speak with Virag.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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

Just Posted

Heather Buelow, owner of Aerial Edge Studio in Blackfalds, says she has spent all of her savings to keep the studio going through government-mandated shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Contributed photo)
Either open in-person or close permanently: Central Alberta yoga studio defying rules

A central Alberta woman is allowing clients back into her traditional and… Continue reading

(MaxPixel)
Sandra Schmirler Foundation donates $10,000 to Red Deer hospital

Donation will go towards electronic fetal heart monitoring project

A sustainability audit for Westerner Park suggested 33 changes, including more city involvement. (Advocate file photo)
Westerner Park expands volunteer program

As Westerner Park refocuses the organization, they are reigniting their emphasis on… Continue reading

Ukraine’s leader requests a talk with Putin, gets no answer

Ukraine’s leader requests a talk with Putin, gets no answer

Madelyn Boyko poses along with a number of the bath bombs she makes with her mom, Jessica Boyko. Madelyn says she enjoys making the bath bombs with her mom as it is a special time for just the two of them. (Photo Submitted)
5-year-old Sylvan Lake girl selling bath bombs in support of younger brother

Madelyn Boyko is selling bath bombs for CdLS research in honour of her younger brother

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on December 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Patrick Doyle
New regulator to stop sexual exploitation of children online: public safety minister

OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the government will introduce… Continue reading

Gordon Greenwood Elementary Grade 7 students were assigned to write about climate change. The Langley Advance Times is pleased to present a selection of their writings. (Sasha/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

OTTAWA — A new report shows Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says he will vote against a… Continue reading

Eugene Kwon of Gratia Bakery and Cafe says the business will be relying on take out orders and a small patio. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

OTTAWA — A group representing thousands of the country’s small businesses says… Continue reading

Ron Howard is photographed at the "Inferno" film premiere on Oct. 25, 2016 in Los Angeles. (Buckner/Rex Shutterstock/Zuma Press/TNS)
Brothers Ron and Clint Howard have memoir coming in October

NEW YORK — Filmmaker-actor Ron Howard and actor Clint Howard, brothers, former… Continue reading

FILE - In this Saturday, March 27, 2021 file photo, Buffalo Sabres’ Taylor Hall plays against the Boston Bruins during the second period of an NHL hockey game, in Boston. The Buffalo Sabres could trade 2018 MVP Hall, who signed for just this season and is a pending free agent. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
Boston Bruins acquire Taylor Hall to kick off NHL trade deadline day

Trade deadline day in the NHL has started with the Boston Bruins… Continue reading

Most Read