Published:August 28, 2022
An eight-month-old baby died last week in Barriere during a period of time when there was no ambulance service available for the district.
According to CTV News, Troy Clifford, president of Ambulance Paramedics of B.C., confirmed that a call came in on Thursday night reporting an infant in cardiac arrest.
Clifford, who described the incident as a “worst case scenario,” said the ambulance that would have been in the Barriere area was covering a staff shortage in Kamloops, located about 45 minutes away.
“I’m not sure of the exact location, but I understand they were in the vicinity of Kamloops when the call came in,” Clifford said.
“That’s absolutely tragic in this situation that we didn’t have an ambulance available for somebody in their time of need.”
BC EHS said in a statement the call is under review, but did not say how long it took for paramedics to arrive on scene.
“Our deepest condolences go out to the family and the community at this heartbreaking loss,” the statement said.
“The closest available ambulance was immediately dispatched and local firefighters were required to assist. We have opened a review and will be working with the Patient Care Quality Office to reach out to this family to answer any concerns or questions they have.”
Barriere Mayor Ward Stamer told CTV News the baby who died was eight months old, and the family was Indigenous.
Stamer said he didn’t want to speculate on whether ambulance response time was a factor in the child’s death, and said local officials aren’t informed when there are ambulance staffing issues.
However, Stamer said it wouldn’t surprise him if there wasn’t ambulance service on Thursday night, saying there has been “significant gaps in service.”
“We know of instances where people have had serious issues and have died because the ambulance wasn’t there in other communities,” Stamer said.
“I don’t want us to be in that situation, second-guessing, when we should have that level of support that everyone in the province deserves.”
Two weeks ago, an Ashcroft resident collapsed while walking his dog and later died, with an ambulance taking nearly 30 minutes to reach the man.
Ashcroft Mayor Barbara Roden said another village resident died a month before that incident, during a time when the local emergency room was closed and the closest available ambulance was in another community.
Clifford told CTV News he has requested a meeting with senior leadership of BC EHS.
“I’ve had some frank discussions with [BC EHS leadership] and they’re very sensitive to this situation as well,” Clifford said.
“Unless there’s an immediate intervention, we’re going to continue to see these things, and we can’t have that.”