Sandspit ambulance crisis far from fixed: Beldessi

  • Mar. 3, 2015 8:00 a.m.

By Shaun ThomasPrince RupertWhile the BC Ambulance Service has been taking steps to improve response on the islands, Sandspit director Bill Beldessi told members of the Skeena – Queen Charlotte Regional District the issue certainly isn’t fixed.”The ambulance coverage continues to be a huge problem and employees have been threatened with letters to censure on their file if they talk to people,” he said during the Feb. 20 meeting.”It continues to be a big problem, as well as the recruiting and retaining of ambulance people, because morale is at an all-time low. So don’t believe everything you read that everything is fixed up because it is not.”Beldessi pointed to one particular incident earlier this year as proof of residents’ concerns with the ambulance service from Sandspit.”What happened a couple of weeks ago was they were taking an 80-year-old man with cancer off the plane and they could have made the Kwuna ferry to Charlotte. They would have been five minutes late but that is normal stuff if the crew knows you’re coming they will wait. But the staff was instructed by the BC Ambulance Service to take them to the Coast Guard cutter instead. They packed him down in a stretcher onto the Coast Guard boat. What the BC Ambulance person said was that every minute the Kwuna waited would cost $10,000, which was crap. It would have cost them nothing,” he said, noting the issue isn’t with the people on-islands.”It has put the ambulance workers in a bad place as well and it is coming from above. The people above just cannot understand what our challenges are … it’s not the ferry workers on the Kwuna at all. Anybody who lives in Sandspit has waited for the ambulance, I waited one time for over an hour because it was the last ferry, and it’s no big deal because we always feel that one day it might be one of us.”Beldessi also said a solution needs to be found before the current system falls apart.”The Coast Guard has been acting as a fallback and, as far as I know, they don’t get paid anything for the service, but they are feeling a bit abused because they feel that ambulance should have gone to the Kwuna so I don’t know how much longer that will continue,” he said.

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