Saint-Quentin accident raises more questions about ambulance service in N.B.

Photo: cbc


Concerns have been renewed about waiting times for ambulances in parts of New Brunswick.

On Friday, a cyclist riding in the small town of Saint-Quentin was injured after being struck by a vehicle.

According to information gathered by Radio-Canada, it took more than 40 minutes for the patient to be transported to hospital.

By chance, a doctor, H​élène Faucher, was passing by at the time and stopped to help.

With time ticking away, and no ambulance in sight, she recommended to police that the victim be placed on a stretcher-like board and taken to hospital in a vehicle belonging to someone who had stopped at the scene.

“The patient [was] lying directly on the asphalt, there is a risk of hypothermia,” she told a Radio-Canada reporter in French.

Cpl. Chantal Farrah, an RCMP spokesperson, confirmed that police responded to the accident and were helped by a doctor who advised they take the patient to the Saint-Quentin hospital after waiting for an ambulance which didn’t arrive.

She couldn’t confirm how long they had waited.

The cyclist was later sent to hospital in Edmundston. The condition of the injured person is not known.

This is not the first time northern New Brunswick has experienced long waiting times for ambulances.

In June, a 54-year-old man from Nash Creek went into cardiac arrest and died while waiting for an ambulance that was stationed 30 kilometres away

Johanne Fortin, chair of a health committee in Saint-Quentin, believes the community is in danger and wants the government to act.  However, she said the current political uncertainty in the province is making it difficult.

Johanne Fortin is the head of a health committee in Saint-Quentin, N.B. (Radio-Canada)

“We end up with no government in power, which door do I knock on?” she said.

Fortin fears the situation will only get worse if nothing is done to fix the problem. “Something serious is going to happen and it will be too late,” she said.

In July, Health Minister Benoî​t Bourque announced a “rapid response” pilot project for rural areas to improve access to emergency medical care.

Under the program, a lone primary-care paramedic would be dispatched to 911 calls in an assigned region and would stabilize patients until an ambulance arrives.

The five rapid response teams were to be set up in Minto/Chipman, Grand Bay-Westfield, Kedgwick/Saint-Quentin, the Acadian Peninsula and southwest Miramichi.

But Bourque said the Liberal government isn’t in a position to make changes to the system now, citing the recent election that has left the shape of the new provincial government undetermined.

He said he hopes the situation is resolved quickly but it will have to wait until a new government is formed.

Ambulance New Brunswick is required to meet response times in urban areas in at least nine minutes and 22 minutes in rural areas.

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