Judy Gallagher, 68, sits at the kitchen table in her Sylvan Lake home on Feb. 25. Bandages wrap her left wrist after an incident while being transported to hospital on Jan. 31. Photo by Kaylyn Whibbs/Sylvan Lake News

Sylvan Lake woman injured during ambulance transport

Judy Gallagher, 68, was injured after the stretcher she was strapped to tipped during transportation

On the last day of January a Sylvan Laker added an unwanted list of injuries to her already problematic pneumonia.

Judy Gallagher, 68, reflects on the events of Jan. 31 sitting at her kitchen table still feeling the residual pain from the incident with her left arm and wrist wrapped in bandages.

Gallagher was transported by ambulance from Sylvan Lake to Red Deer Regional Hospital on the Friday night in January by two female members of the ambulance crew. After arriving at the hospital she was removed from the back of the ambulance and raised on the gurney so she was high above the ground.

As she was being moved into the hospital disaster struck and the gurney she was strapped to flipped as it was being lifted over the curb, landing on top of her and causing injuries to riddle the left side of her body.

Gallagher was left with broken bones in her arm, a broken rib, an injured shoulder, as well as bruising on her face and left side of her body.

“It was one of the worst things I ever went through and I don’t know if I’d ever want to phone the ambulance again or not,” said Gallagher. “We’re supposed to feel safe with that, but I sure as hell don’t.”

“I mean, they’re supposed to be professionals, but one girl didn’t listen to the other one,” recalled Gallagher of the incident, adding she doesn’t remember much after being dumped.

All of her injuries and pneumonia were treated when she was admitted to the hospital after the incident. She was in the hospital for a little over two weeks overall.

Gallagher says she has no timeline for her recovery as she is waiting to meet with a specialist for the bones in her arm. The injuries are preventing her from being able to drive her car or wash her own dishes forcing her to graciously accept help from friends and hire help for around the house.

“If this hadn’t happened I would be pretty much on the go again,” commented Gallagher.

As of Feb. 21 the ambulance service, Associated Ambulance and Services, had not followed up or acknowledged the incident aside from the “I’m sorry” she received when it happened.

She said she thought she would receive a call from the company at some point after her discharge from the hospital, but heard nothing.

The following Monday, Feb. 24, Gallagher was contacted by the ambulance service and Alberta Health Services (AHS) in regard to the incident, which she says, is an act that was “too little, too late.”

In an email statement AHS said, “this was an extremely unfortunate incident, and again we apologize to the patient for the distress this caused.”

“This patient was injured when the ambulance crew was attempting to navigate a snowy curb, and the stretcher carrying the patient tipped onto its side.”

Gallagher says there was no snow on the curb and questions why they were pulling the stretcher over the curb when there are ramps.

The AHS statement continues to say medical care was provided to the patient at the scene and she was quickly transferred to the hospital.

“AHS has strict standards in place to ensure patient safety during transport. We are conducting an investigation into this incident,” the statement concludes.

Gallagher says during the various phone calls from Associated Ambulance and Services and AHS they admitted to be at fault, apologized and offered to cover expenses, which she says she will believe when she sees it.

“You guys weren’t on the end of unfortunate, I was,” Gallagher says of the calls. “It was, and it still is, terrifying.”

Gallagher has been in contact with a lawyer in regard to the incident.

Alberta Health Services Central Zone

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