Long waits for ambulance

Every day, at least five emergency patients are waiting more than 40 minutes for an ambulance in Metro Vancouver.

And that number rose to almost 11 patients a day last winter, a CTV investigation has revealed.

Andrew Cho waited 55 minutes in January when a blood vessel burst in his spine, paralyzing him.

“My arms and legs weren’t moving,” said Cho. “The only thing I had moving at the time was my neck and chin. So I crawled using my chin. I unlocked the phone with my tongue and used Siri to call 911.”

Firefighters were dispatched and, finding his case more serious than initially believed, called in paramedics. That took another 55 minutes – even though his apartment is only blocks away from St. Paul’s Hospital.

“It’s a terrifying feeling to be in that position when you need help to be sitting there waiting," said Cho, who has made a full recovery.

On just that same night (Jan. 6), 11 other Code 3 calls (lights and sirens emergencies) took more than 40 minutes to respond to.

From October 2016 to October 2017, 2,056 patients waited more than 40 minutes on Code 3 calls. The region receives about 850 high-priority calls a day.

Neil Lilly, head of dispatch with BC Emergency Health Services, says demand is up six per cent, and the BC Ambulance Service is boosting service by $91 million.

But, the paramedics union says that may not be enough.

Spokesman Dave Deines says a 2012 study revealed the region needs 22 more ambulances.

– with files from CTV Vancouver

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