Ambulance delays: this nonagenarian waited 90 minutes for the ambulance with a broken hip

Our Bureau of Investigation compiled and analyzed the average delays between an urgent 9-1-1 call and the arrival of ambulances in the 112 municipalities with more than 10,000 inhabitants in Quebec, over a period of one year. Result: nearly 85% of them are unable to provide an ambulance in the required time to a person whose life is threatened.

A lady from Drummondville who broke her hip waited for an hour and a half for the ambulance services, enduring all this time in excruciating pain, denounces her daughter.

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“I was by his side. I saw my mother screaming on the ground. The horror!”, still remembers with emotion Jacinthe Jean, who witnessed the state of distress of her mother, Rolande Malenfant.

Our Investigation Office has lifted the veil over the last few days on the long response times of paramedics during critical calls. But long delays are also present during non-urgent calls, we have noted.

Jacinthe Jean knows something about this. On September 4, 2020, around 7:30 p.m., his 93-year-old mother fell in the private residence for the elderly where she was staying. The beneficiary attendant then noticed a noticeable dislocation in her right hip and contacted 9-1-1. It’s 7:43 p.m.

“My mother had fallen on the same hip that she had had surgery on the year before,” explains her daughter.

But help does not come. A second, then a third call to 9-1-1 is made.

“It was so painful for her. And my mother was not a woman who shouted about stupid things. She was tough,” assures her daughter, who estimates that the paramedics arrived around 9:15 p.m.

“I was waiting for them with a brick and a lantern. But they were delicate. They were careful, they placed her delicately, they bundled her up,” she remembers.

  • Listen to the interview with Me Yvon Garneau, coroner via QUB :

At the hospital, we see that M’s fractureme Malenfant is difficult to operate on, especially since she had already undergone hip surgery. The nonagenarian suffering from dementia, it was then decided that she be placed in palliative care.

She died on September 15, 2020.

As much the daughter of Mme Malenfant and the coroner who analyzed the file recognize that the more rapid arrival of ambulances would have had no impact on the patient’s chances of survival. However, both deplore the interminable wait and the intense pain that the old lady experienced before being taken care of.

“One minute of suffering is already too much,” says coroner Yvon Garneau, who studied this case.

“We are in Drummondville, we are supposed to have an ambulance, paramedics who arrive at our bedside at the worst,” he comments.

58 minutes too long

His investigation led him to conclude that the paramedics should have gone to the patient “approximately 58 minutes earlier”. The delay would then have been around half an hour.

But a series of problems – poor priority rating, ambulance not available in the area – delayed the processing of this file.

–With Philippe Langlois

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