Ambulance arrived in 15 minutes: Alberta Health

Alberta Health Services says dispatch records show an ambulance arrived to help a man in Sylvan Lake who had collapsed

  • Apr. 25, 2013 3:00 p.m.

by Paul Cowley

Red Deer Advocate

Alberta Health Services says dispatch records show an ambulance arrived to help a man in Sylvan Lake who had collapsed and later died in 15 minutes, not the nearly half hour a local resident claims.

“We know that the initial response did take 15 minutes,” said Lyle McKellar, executive director EMS Central Zone.

“We are certainly able to track the time the calls came in to the 911 centre, to the time the ambulance is dispatched to the time the ambulance arrives on scene.”

Garry Virag, who went public with his concern about the length of time it took for an ambulance to arrive after the Mar. 19 incident in Ryders Ridge, disagrees the ambulance was there that soon.

“That’s impossible, “ he said. “I know what 15 minutes is. I know time sees to drag when something like this happens. It was way more than 15.”

Virag said a man who had been shovelling snow had collapsed and stopped breathing on Mar. 19. Residents went to his aid and performed CPR on the man until help arrived. The man, who had been visiting family, later died.

A cellphone held by one of those who came to help the unconscious man showed it was 27 minutes before the first of two ambulances arrived, he said.

McKellar said it is “highly unlikely” that the automated dispatch system would be in error.

Alberta Health Services is still reviewing why it took 15 minutes for the ambulance, which was in Sylvan Lake when the call came in, to arrive on scene.

“That’s really what we’re trying to understand now,” he said.

There was some difficulty finding the address on Rafferty Court, which is a new part of town about a year old.

“Our investigation has revealed it has been a difficult address to locate and now we’re trying to understand why that is the case.”

Alberta Health Services will look at what maps are available, what directions may have been given by dispatch or the 911 caller and other factors.

The street is so new it did not show up on the GPS in the ambulance.

Health officials plan to interview Virag as part of their review.