WATCH ABOVE: When you call for an ambulance, you expect a quick response. But, several paramedics say a failed system is making patients wait. Kendra Slugoski reports.
EDMONTON – Desperate for change, paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) are speaking out about their frustration on the front lines.
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“I’ve had to explain to families why it took us a half hour, 45 minutes to get to their side when they’re crying for help,” says ‘Mike’ a rural EMT. Afraid of losing his job, Global News has agreed to protect his identity.
“When the odds are so significantly stacked against you, when you’re not protecting the community you chose to work in because you’re somewhere else and tragedy strikes, you begin to lose hope,” Mike writes in a blog post.
READ MORE: Code Red – A blog from one ‘utterly frustrated EMT’
Alberta Health Services took over the ambulance fleet in 2009 and developed a borderless system. It allows dispatch to pull ambulances and their crews outside of the city into the metro areas.
“We often refer to Edmonton as the vortex. Once you’re in, good luck getting out.”
Mike says he is often dispatched to drive patients to Edmonton for non-emergency transfers. Once in the hospital, he must stay with that patient until a bed is available. Many of his days are spent sitting and waiting.
Mike has also been called to different counties because their ambulance crews are tied up in the city.
“So now you’re getting these holes in the province where there’s no EMS coverage whatsoever. On multiple occasions, I’ve been the only ambulance available in a 100 kilometre radius.”
READ MORE: Code Red Part 1 – Paramedics warn of lengthening response times
In 2012, 11 paramedics put their livelihoods on the line and spoke to Global News about long waits in hospital emergency rooms, as well as a lack of ambulances on the road.
Our award-winning Code Red series prompted the health minister to promise more resources and more paramedics.
Three years later, many other paramedics say nothing has changed.
One of those paramedics is a 40-year veteran. George Porter now works in southern Alberta, but has spent time in cities and towns across the province.
AHS does not have response time benchmarks, but Chief Paramedic Darren Sandbeck says times have remained consistent.
“I challenge that,” says Porter, who explains he has expressed concern to management and a previous Health Minister. Porter says rural crews are constantly being called for inter-facility transfers and are basically being treated like taxi drivers.
“A huge percentage of the transfers we’re doing don’t need to be in an ambulance. They need a ride.”
But Alberta’s top paramedic says it comes down to geography.
Sandbeck says Alberta is a big province and an ambulance can’t be everywhere quickly. AHS maintains the borderless system is a better use of resources.
“I believe every Albertan would like to know they’re going to get the closest ambulance and that’s what our deployment model does.”
GRAPHIC: The maps below Alberta Health Services’ zones and the regions and the populations of those regions (as of 2011 AHS records).
Paramedics and EMTs say once they arrive in big city hospitals, they are waiting hours to release a patient.
According to one Edmonton paramedic, it’s not unusual to spend an entire shift in the emergency room and sometimes staff even trade off.
“They take over patient care there, they’re stuck there their entire shift and another paramedic relieves them.”
A Calgary paramedic says patients should also be alarmed.
“They should be absolutely concerned — people in the metro areas, people in the big cities for sure. Their hospitals are back-logged, ambulances are not available.”
AHS says it has tried to reduce hospital times for EMS crews, but says it hasn’t had a lot of success. A pilot project was launched at two Edmonton hospitals to free up space in emergency rooms, and allow ambulance crews to get back on the road.
READ MORE: AHS pilot project aims to cut ER wait times, get more ambulances on the road
Porter says the solution is simple: non-emergency transfers should not take priority over emergency coverage.
“I don’t get it. I haven’t got it from day one and I still don’t get it, why we’re in this situation five years after the fact.”
One Texas cop has put the would-be husbands of the world on notice with this elaborate (and incredibly cute) proposal.
Galveston Police officer Gregory Parris enlisted the help of his fellow officers to help him pop the question to his longtime girlfriend Sara Wolff.
Here’s how it went down: Galveston police officers pulled over Wolff in what appeared to be a routine traffic stop, ostensibly because she had a busted tail light.
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Meanwhile, officer Parris was watching from a nearby squad car, ring in hand. And despite being a veteran of many a traffic stop, he admits this particular one was different.
“That day I was very nervous,” officer Parris told KHOU News in Houston.
Dash cam footage captured the entire exchange, as the officer who pulled Wolff over told her she had several outstanding warrants.
A second police officer is called to the scene, and Wolff begins to cry as she asks what she could have done to possibly merit this kind of response.
But dread soon turns to delight as Officer Parris makes his move, walking over to his shock girlfriend, dropping down on one knee, and asking the question.
No, not “Do you know how fast you were going?”
“He said Sarah Jane Wolff will you be my wife,” said Wolff.
Thankfully, she immediately said yes.
“She might have gone to jail otherwise,” Officer Parris joked afterwards.
Wolff said she was beyond impressed by her husband-to-be’s elaborate proposal.
“I can’t imagine being proposed to any better than that,” said Wolff. “It was perfect for us.”
LINCOLN, Neb. – The developer of the Keystone XL oil pipeline took its first steps in Nebraska on Tuesday since the state’s high court removed a major legal barrier for the planned route.
Officials with TransCanada said they’ve filed paperwork in nine counties to acquire access to the remaining land that’s needed to construct, operate and maintain the pipeline. The two-year window for TransCanada to invoke eminent domain in Nebraska closes Thursday.
The pathway could still face legal challenges in Nebraska. Opponents have sued to try to prevent the Calgary, Alberta-based company from using eminent domain and to overturn the state pipeline-siting law that allowed ex-Gov. Dave Heineman to approve the route in 2013.
The pipeline would carry an estimated 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day to Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines headed for Gulf Coast refineries.
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By law, TransCanada can use the courts to force Nebraska landowners to sell access to their land. Company officials say they still need to acquire 12 per cent of the total land easements from Nebraska landowners who have not yet reached a deal with the company. Some holdouts have said they won’t negotiate no matter how much TransCanada offers.
TransCanada’s Keystone projects land manager, Andrew Craig, said the company will continue to work to acquire easements voluntarily. Craig said eminent domain proceedings traditionally take about six months.
The company has acquired 100 per cent of the private landowner easements in Montana and South Dakota, Craig said.
“This is all we have left,” Craig told The Associated Press. “… We think 88 per cent voluntarily agreements in the last two years is a substantial success.”
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Pipeline opponents argue that many of the landowners in Montana and South Dakota were “bullied” early in the process and told they had no other option.
“Farmers and ranchers have the grit and stomach to prevent TransCanada from polluting our water. Landowners will match TransCanada’s lawsuits in local courts and continue to take our fight to the one person who can put an end to all of this: President Obama,” said Jane Kleeb, executive director of pipeline opposition group Bold Nebraska.
President Barack Obama has downplayed the project’s benefits, and the White House has publicly threatened to veto legislation in Congress that would fast-track the project.
Environmentalists and other pipeline opponents argue that any leaks could contaminate water sources and the project would increase air pollution around refineries and harm wildlife. Supporters, including state and national Republicans and oil industry members, say those fears are exaggerated and argue that the pipeline would create jobs and ease the country’s dependence on foreign oil.
At least 70 per cent of the Nebraska landowners have signed agreements, Craig said, and he expects the company will sign agreements with at least half of the remaining landowners without having to use eminent domain.
In the two lawsuits filed last week – which could delay the entire 1,179-mile Canada-to-Nebraska project – seven landowners in Holt and York counties said they’ve received written warning that pipeline developer intends to initiate eminent domain proceedings.
Those still willing to negotiate mostly have concerns about compensation and restoration of native grasslands that could take three to five years to regrow, Craig said.
EDMONTON – Things continue to look up for the Edmonton International Airport, which saw 8.2 million passengers in 2014, breaking the previous record set in 2013.
Travel to the United States went up 8.5 per cent in 2014, while international travel grew 13.1 per cent. It was also a big year for new airlines and routes out of EIA.
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Icelandair began year-round service to Reykjavik in the spring, adding additional flights during the summer.
American Airlines began service to Dallas-Fort Worth in April, and in October added a non-stop flight to Los Angeles.
In November, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines announced new non-stop passenger and cargo service to Amsterdam, beginning in May 2015.
“Adding three major international air carriers is a great show of confidence that opens new destinations for leisure travellers, and new opportunities for business,” said Tom Ruth, President and CEO.
The airport’s two largest carriers – Air Canada and WestJet – increased overall seat capacity.
There was also much fanfare when the world’s largest aircraft – the Antonov An-225 – landed at the airport in June.
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Cargo services grew for the fifth year in a row, with over 370,000 square feet of new facilities announced or completed. Three major freight carriers – Cargojet, DHL and FedEx – all began flying larger planes into EIA to accommodate higher volumes and larger shipments.
EIA said commercial development was also strong, with over $330 million spent or committed in private investment. The Renaissance Edmonton Airport Hotel opened and a second Shell Aerocentre was built. Canadian North also announced a new pilot training centre, housing a Boeing 737 flight simulator.
“With outstanding support from our community, from our passengers, and from our business partners, 2014 has been another great year for Edmonton International Airport,” said Mr. Ruth.
The Edmonton International Airport has been Canada’s fastest-growing major airport for the past 10 years and the fifth-busiest airport by passenger traffic.
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TORONTO – The French satirical magazine at the centre of this month’s deadly terror attacks in Paris has launched an app as worldwide demand for its latest issue grows.
The Charlie Hebdo app is illustrated with the current cover of the magazine, which features the Prophet Muhammad holding a sign reading, “Je suis Charlie” – the phrase of support that has become synonymous with the attacks.
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“Because a pencil will always be better than barbarity… Because freedom is a universal right… Use the official app to read Charlie Hebdo and to support us by buying the latest issue,” the app’s description reads.
The magazine has been struggling to keep up with demand for the issue; the first since the deadly shooting which killed 12 people, including many of the magazine’s editorial staff.
Copies of the issue have sold for as much as $680 on eBay.
The Charlie Hebdo app is available for Android, Windows Phone and Apple’s iOS platform.
However, Apple’s decision to approve the app stands in stark contrast to its previous opinion on satirical and controversial content.
READ MORE: ‘Je Suis Charlie’ app approved in 1 hour after developers contacted Apple CEO
In 2010, the tech giant banned apps from many editorial cartoonists for breaching its policy against “ridiculing public figures.” Stephane Charbonnier, the Charlie Hebdo editor who died in the attack, publically criticized Apple’s stance on satirical cartoons.
Apple later changed its stance on satirical comedy.
Charlie Hebdo’s cover has sparked protests in several Muslim cities, as many believe the caricature is an insult to Islam.
Protesters have been rallying against the magazine for days in Afghanistan – chanting “Death to France,” burning French flags and demanding the French Embassy in Kabul be shut down.
When it comes to religious content, Apple’s app guidelines state, “Apps containing references or commentary about a religious, cultural or ethnic group that are defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited or likely to expose the targeted group to harm or violence will be rejected.”
However, the guidelines now specify that “professional political satirists and humorists” are exempt from these rules.
The app itself is free, but users have to purchase the magazine via an in-app purchase for CAD$3.49. Currently the issue is available in French, English and Spanish.