To the Editor:
At approximately 7:30 p.m. March 14, I found my friend lying on the kitchen floor unconscious and unresponsive. She appeared to have fainted for some reason. I called 911, which was slowly answered after several rings. I identified myself and my location, and asked her to send an ambulance. Explaining the situation, the operator put me on hold without explanation, and told me not to hang up. After what seemed like a very long time, after waiting for the operator to return, I hung up to attend to my friend, who was showing signs of life by opening her eyes and speaking.
The phone rang and I answered to find an RCMP officer asking what the concern was, for which I took the time to explain and, in conclusion, that I was going to load my friend into my vehicle and transport her myself to the local Creston hospital. This, I have been informed, could have been a very bad choice in a heart attack or stroke occurrence. Luckily, we made it safely to the hospital where she remained overnight for tests and observation, which I am pleased with, considering the 911 responder delayed action and guidance time. I am very pleased that my friend did not experience a more immediate life-threatening event because of the area’s emergency response guidelines, if there are any to be followed, in the case of heart attacks, strokes or any other number of life’s necessary functions.
Now is the time to ask local administrators how they can improve 911 guidelines, particularly how those involving how unresponsive person at home are to be handled. In my opinion, there are a number of errors in the above 911 responder’s actions that should be improved. Have a set of specific questions to ask and to inform the caller. When it is clearly a potential life-threatening situation requesting an ambulance, send out the ambulance. If it is mandatory to first call RCMP for them to vet all 911 calls in every case to ascertain safety for responder risks or domestic dispute concerns, by all means train RCMP officers in 911 call duties and have them present in the same office and take calls.
In my case, I should have been coached by the 911 responder on how to best attend to my friend and told that they were dispatching ambulance and calling the RCMP, not told to hang on in silence. I understand the concerns of emergency responder safety regarding potential personal risks at every call; however, life-threatening emergencies are purely time-related. In order to save lives, training is imperative and very important for everyone. Evaluate and assess all calls, learn from them and implement new guidelines as required.
I hope that if anyone in Creston requires emergency response they experience a better experience than I received this time, and I hope it is better next time if I do request some for my injured neighbour or myself.
Special thanks to all hospital emergency first responders and admitting staff for their speedy demonstration of professionalism and caring attitude. Please continue on showing their very positive personal culture.