A captain with the Anzac Fire Department is sharing concerns over the safety of residents in the community under Alberta Health Services’ EMS dispatch system.
AHS officially took over the service from the RMWB in mid-January and in the past couple of weeks, the hamlet has seen multiple delays in delivering care to patients.
Julie Stewart, who’s been a volunteer with the department for 12 years, tells Mix News a young man recently had a snowmobile accident and instead of contacting them to respond, they sent an ambulance from Fort McMurray.
“Within a one-minute walk, you had four members that could have been there to help him. We could have been at the hall within minutes and responded to him in 10 minutes and been by his side providing critical patient care.”
Stewart, who got permission from the man’s family to speak about the incident, says he laid in the snow for around an hour suffering from severe head trauma, a back injury, frostbite, and more.
An elder in the community could have been in the same situation if it weren’t for a neighbour.
After injuring his leg from a falling tree, an individual found him and contacted a member of the fire department directly who provided first aid, including keeping him warm, while an ambulance arrived from Fort McMurray.
“It was like -27 that day, waiting for an ambulance which was lost in the community likely from the misdirection of Alberta Health Services.”
According to AHS’s Chief Paramedic Darren Sandbeck, situations like the snowmobile accident aren’t a part of the department’s mandate.
He added they made a checklist that outlined all the situations they would be called in to help with.
Stewart confirmed the list does exist, however, these incidents meet the criteria for them to be notified.
She noted they had recently been called to help a pregnant woman who had fallen over but are confused as to why they weren’t notified of the other incidents.
Overall, Stewart believes leaving the fire department out of many of these situations could be very dangerous for residents of Anzac.
“Do you think that those individuals making these decisions understand the geographic timeline between Fort McMurray and Anzac – I have kids here, my neighbour has kids here, we have a school here, we have elders.”
Mix News reached out to AHS following Stewart’s remarks, however, they didn’t want to comment further at this time.