Why did a 77-year-old woman have to wait two hours for an ambulance?
A West Island woman says even paramedics couldn't believe it when they found out an elderly woman had to wait more than two hours after falling down a flight of 10 cement steps.
The incident happened at a church in Dollard des Ormeaux on Wednesday night. The 77-year-old woman's friend, Stephanie, contacted CJAD 800 through Your Story to report she had found her lying in a pool of blood which had been dripping from her head.
The woman managed to remain alert, and Stephanie, a registered nurse, was able to stop the bleeding, but slowly, the wait turned from minutes to hours.
"When the ambulance actually arrived, it was a full two hours and five minutes after we made the call," Stephanie says. "They were actually angry, saying, 'why was this woman lying on the floor for two hours. That's completely unacceptable.'"
She notes that after an hour, someone from Urgences-Santé did check up on the woman, urging Stephanie not to move her, and advising her that it might take a while for the ambulance to get there.
Stéphane Gascon with Urgences-Santé says it was an unusually busy night for the ambulance service, but that wasn't the whole story — a large part of the problem, he says, has to do with poor city planning.
"There's so many detours that we can't keep up in putting them into the computer-assisted dispatch system," he says.
He says the ever-present construction and traffic have significantly increased emergency wait times for Montrealers in emergencies.
Meanwhile, Urgences-Santé union rep Luc Beaumont contends the woman might not have had to wait so long, if the ambulance service had more resources.
"It's simple mathematics," Beaumont says. "If you have more available vehicles, then those vehicles can respond more quickly, and not be rerouted constantly to more urgent calls."
The 77-year-old woman was not seriously hurt — she spent the night in the emergency room and is now back home, resting comfortably.
But Stephanie wonders what would have happened if the injury had been more serious. "This could have been a horror story if she had had a spinal injury or a brain bleed," she said.
-CJAD 800's Emily Campbell contributed to this report.