EDMONTON – ‘Mike’ is an Edmonton area EMT featured in Global News’ Code Red series. Here, in his own words, Mike shares why he felt the need to speak out about the current issues facing provincial ambulance services:
“What Albertans DON’T know about their healthcare system could actually kill them.
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Code Red Part 1: Paramedics warn of lengthening response times
Code Red preview with Heather Yourex
Imagine sitting around the table for a family dinner when your mother or father suddenly clutches their chest. You rush to the phone and dial 911 then the reassuring voice on the other end of the line says ‘help is on the way.’ But from where is that help coming from?
You could live in a major city or a small rural community and you would expect help would not be that far away, wouldn’t you? Such is not the case more often than not nowadays anywhere in Alberta.
You see, since the province has taken over healthcare, there has been an endless shuffling game to make up for lack of resources in one area or another instead of actually investing in the system and attempting to fix its numerous flaws.
Quite often that results in communities being left empty of ambulances as well as their neighbouring communities. The nearest ambulance could be as far as 80-100 km away. I’ve seen this situation many times since the forming of AHS.
Let’s go back to that family dinner now shall we?
Your beloved family member has now collapsed to the floor where they have stopped breathing and as your own heart feels like it’s going to stop the voice on the phone starts barraging you with questions and instructions on CPR. Frantically you try to follow instructions and begin pounding on your loved ones chest, feeling ribs cracking under your hands in the process, all the while wondering ‘where the hell is the ambulance?’
Family members are crying, shouting, rushing to the window praying to see the help you called for to no avail. Heart pounding and ragged breaths from exertion as you fight through your tears to continue to attempt to save such a vital part of your family.
Seconds seem like minutes, minutes seem like hours and your prayers for help are yet to be answered.
Little did you know that your usual nearest ambulance has been sent to another community because their ambulance got sent to yet another community whose usual ambulance is stuck at one of the major hospitals facing a many hour wait for the admission of their patient. Now your help, coming from God knows where, is racing to your community (that they’re not familiar with) to desperately try to help. They’ve finally arrived!!!!
They come in with a ton of bags, fancy equipment and proceed to descend over your family member like army ants. Any experienced EMT or Paramedic knows that the chances of bringing your family member back at all let alone with any quality of life after being down so long are slim to none but they try none the less. Now there’s tubes, IV lines, paper, packaging, needles and exhausted medical supplies all over the place as the commotion comes to a stop and the head crew member says the DREADED word ‘stop’….. With defeated expressions and soft apologetic tones they tell you that your loved one is beyond their help….
We are all in this career to help others, we care about our communities, the people and quite often have family in the communities we work in.
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.
The EMS profession is a hard enough job without having to fight for the much-needed resources that have been deficient for so many years. That and we live with a very real fear in the back of our minds thinking ‘what if this was MY family member?’ Knowing the sad state of affairs of healthcare in Alberta I’m thankful that none of my older family members live here. If you, the people of Alberta, don’t want a situation like this to happen to you or a family member then it’s well past the time to speak out and demand some action by this government.
One utterly frustrated EMT.”