Imagine this....Your child falls down the basement stairs, you find them, laying in a pool of blood, unconscious, and barely breathing. What is the first thing you do? Of course, you grab the phone and call 911, the lifeline to all Canadians. You know that as soon as you speak to a person, the wheels will be set in motion, and help will arrive momentarily. The moments, however, always feel like hours. Well.....those moments, HAVE become hours in small communities across the province of British Columbia!
The quick response time, when you can stand back, and watch a professional medical person assist your loved one, has disappeared for many people. They are left to attempt to save their own, with hours of waiting until someone shows up at the door. Unacceptable? Definitely!! However, our provincial government has simply sat back, and allowed this to happen, all over British Columbia.There are a number of places in northern British Columbia, that if you happen to travel their highways, have a nasty accident, good luck!!There will be no paramedic there to put you on a spine board, you will be better off, letting Joe Blow haul your sorry bleeding broken a$$ into the back of their lifted chromed pickup, and drive you off to the nearest hospital. Folks in the Cariboo have bled to death waiting for an ambulance to get to them. Really, people!! So, if you don't think this sh*t affects you, obviously you do not travel!!
Response times in semi-isolated communities are often longer than the "City Mice" have to wait. Your medical assistance is likely offered by a housewife who carries a pager while she goes about her everyday life. When that goes off (and trust me, when someone in Kamloops dispatches an ambulance to a spot on highway 37, a whole whack of stuff has happened, taking far longer than they do to dispatch a car to Lion's Gate bridge), this housewife then must don her uniform, that is required by BCAS, they must look professional, right? You certainly don't want to be saved by someone wearing their jogging pants, now, do you? Then they must get in their own personal vehicle, follow street legal speeds, and make their way to the ambulance station. Hopefully it is summer, and not winter, because those old motors don't want to start cold! Their partner has been going through the same scenario. Then they begin to travel out to your accident scene, which may be 100 miles away from their town. Hummm....certainly not the shining picture BCAS paints, is it? That accident scene on Lion's Gate bridge has already had a Police vehicle, a fire truck, the jaws of life, and a helicopter whisking the victims off to the hospital, which is 5 minutes away, surgical team waiting to fix everyone up. You, however, lay there, beside the logging truck (thank goodness log truck drivers have radios, because, surprise...no cell service!) it's dusty, you're suffering, and it is a very long time before you even hear the sirens off in the distance. The poor driver is doing all he can to help, but, he can't move you, just in case your back is broken, so, he suffers as well. There is no one else on the road, you feel lost, and scared.
Well, guess what folks, now the BCAS has taken even that less than perfect service away. You and the log truck driver may as well discuss how he can lift you into the passenger seat of his truck, because...the housewife has been screwed for the last time by BCAS, she has given her last 360 days of the year covering in her town. She has hollered for help, she has begged for assistance, she warned them the time was approaching when there would be no locals to carry the pager. They simply plugged their ears and shut their eyes. Why would they do that? Well, I am going to offer you my take..THEY DON"T CARE!!! In my mind, it is worse than not caring, I believe they would prefer to concentrate all their time, money, and staff in the lower mainland, or perhaps the Okanagen, lots of paramedics would love that plum job. People just don't want to live in small towns. Hey, headquarters are in Vancouver, the college is in Vancouver, the Union is in Vancouver, the big wigs are in Vancouver, the media is in Vancouver, the money is in Vancouver!!If a paramedic wants to become Full-time, guess where he/she has to spend time? Yep, Vancouver!!!Think of the money they will save....Oh, then they can use those helicopters, to land all over the highway, and up at Whistler (because, it is such a long journey from the tourist mecca to a hospital), right?
Why didn't you hear about this? Well, here is a tiny tidbit, I know this tidbit, because...my honey was involved with BCAS for many years...they (Paramedics) can't tell you diddly! Their Union, and their management have duct taped their mouths. The only folks who are allowed to speak to the public are..Union, and Management!! Do you think either is going to tell the the honest to God truth? Cripes, no, otherwise they will lose their positions. Is the Union going to stand up for the housewife? Not on your life!! Their focus is strictly on the Full-Timers, Part-timers are crap to them, they don't care about Part-time issues, they want to ensure the Full-Timers get what they need, and that is a big enough battle, without worrying about a couple of backwood folks.
Staffing in these small town has always been an issue, but, just like the shortage of Doctors, why on earth can't the government (because this is ALL government)make it mandatory for folks who are starting off, to spend 3 months in these small communities? What skin off the back of the BCAS would that be? Those housewives could cover days off for the Full-Time Newbies. They would learn how to deal with issues without a full service hospital 12 blocks away. They could experience bare bone paramedics, and think for themselves. Why do they all have to go to Vancouver?
Those of us living in the boondocks get screwed by the health system daily. We pay exactly what Joe Blow does living next to St. Paul's hospital in Vancouver for our MSP. We pay the same premiums as Suzy Chapstick who takes a bus with her senior discount pass to have her radiation treatment. We pay the same premium as Sally , who has a choice of walk-ins to hit, in the middle of the afternoon.
We now have places that will wait 2 hours on a good day, in the middle of summer, likely 3.5 hours in the middle of winter just to have an ambulance show up at their front door, then they will pray to survive at least 4 hours to be dropped off at a hospital. Then if it is really bad, and they can't help them at the small hospital, perhaps they will be lucky, and be driven to a plane (which of course has had to make it's way from.....Vancouver) and flown off to the city, and one last drive to the hospital. All of this...is NOT free, it comes with a price, that must be paid out of pocket. Sure wish we could use Suzy's discount!!!
So, maybe all the small towns, who are being screwed by the British Columbia Ambulance Service (in truth the Lower Mainland Ambulance Service) can band together. Maybe the voices of the little people who have just as much right to emergency services, as the high- rise livers, could speak at once, and maybe they can put their feet down. Maybe they can ask the question why they don't matter?
The sad truth is, it is going to take a life, in fact, because lives have already been lost in some communities, the government obviously has not, and I suppose, will not care. Those who live in small town are simply expendable. What a disgrace to our province, and beyond that, to our country. It is apparent, some Canadians are less than others. Is this not discrimination? Hummmm.....Maybe there is a legal leg to stand on here folks, we are a Nation, and we have National Health care, now....let's make sure our government makes it available to each and every one of us, we pay the same rates, we get the same service!!!