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Ambulance Cuts and a Cowboy’s Death

Harvey Oberfeld
By Harvey Oberfeld
July 12th, 2010

 It was bound to happen.  And it has.

Serious questions have arisen about whether B.C. ambulance service cuts contributed to the death of a bull rider at a rodeo Friday.  And they must be answered.

Makwala Derickson-Hall was severely injured when he was bucked and then trampled by a rodeo bull  at the Valemount Rodeo. He was able to almost stand up and lunge his way towards the coral fence before collapsing on the ground.

He made it to hospital but then succumbed to his injuries a few hours later.

 But  maybe he could have been saved, IF there had been an ambulance stationed at the opening of the annual rodeo that draws thousands each year to Valemount, near the BC-Alberta border.

Apparently, Valemount, a town  of 1250, has two ambulances serving it and the surrounding rural communities. They were both away attending to highway accidents so no ambulance was at the rodeo or even close by.

In a superb story Sunday night, Global TV’s Darlene Heidemann raised the issue:  there was no ambulance on standby  at the rodeo and none in the immediate area either. Why?

This raises a multitude of questions that should be pursued by all BC media this week.

Other news reports have pointed out that after Derickson-Hall was injured, it took an hour for an ambulance (and paramedic?)   just to make it to the rodeo from McBride, about 85 Km away. And then, of course, additional time to get him to a hospital.

It’s too early to know the answers.  But there are lots of questions that should be pursued:

  • How many ambulances and paramedics have  been stationed in and around Valemount over previous years?  Were these numbers affected by BC government cutbacks to service levels?
  • Was an ambulance and paramedic stationed at the rodeo “just in case” in previous years?  Was this affected by BC government cutbacks to service levels?
  • Did the delay in getting the young cowboy to hospital affect his chances of being saved?

They are tough, trying questions, but they MUST be asked. And the issues  pursued.

If a life was lost because of ambulance/paramedic spending and service cutbacks at the same time that  the province has hundreds of millions of dollars to cover huge costs AND OVERUNS for the Olympic games, Whistler Highway, Canada Line, Convention Centre and new BC Place roof , the public has the right to know.

And that would raise a hundred more questions … at least.

Reprinted by permission of Harv Oberfeld. This column first appeared in Mr. Oberfeld’s blog, Keeping it Real

 

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