By Josh Massey and Margaret Speirs
Ambulances were delayed in responding to a Thornhill traffic accident last week because they were busy elsewhere, says the agency which manages the emergency medical service.
And callers to the 9-1-1 dispatch centre from the scene of the March 24 collision between two vehicles indicated there were no serious injuries, said the BC Ambulance Service.
The accident occurred during the early afternoon of March 24 when a 2005 Nissan Frontier traveling south on Clarke Ave. and a 2012 Chevrolet Malibu entering the intersection from Paquette Ave. collided, said Terrace RCMP.
Two people were eventually taken to the hospital and were in “good condition,” indicated a statement from the BC Ambulance Service.
According to two witnesses, people at the scene were distressed that it seemed to take a long time for the ambulance to show up.
“The response times were slow,” said local observer Neil Maier, of how long it took the first responders from the fire department to arrive and then the ambulance.
In response, a statement from the BC Ambulance Service sent by communications officer Preet Grewal said the Thornhill Volunteer Fire Department was sent to assist with the call at 1:21 p.m. after the call was received at 1:19 p.m.
However ambulances didn’t arrive until 19 minutes after the call, the statement continued.
The reason for this was because the ambulances were being used to bring patients to the Northwest Regional Airport at the time, it said. All three ambulances available in Terrace were occupied at the time.
Another factor was that those on the scene informed the dispatchers that there were no serious injuries, said the ambulance service.
“Due to an unusually high number of high acuity patient transports at the airport at this time, the closest ambulance arrived on scene in 19 minutes,” said BC Ambulance.
“Based on the information provided by three callers who called 9-1-1 to report the accident, this was deemed a non-emergency call as the patients did not have serious injuries,” it said.
Following up in the aftermath of the accident, the investigation continues, RCMP Inspector Dana Hart said last week.
At that point, Hart couldn’t say if speed was a factor in the accident.
The statement from BC Ambulance added that “had the injuries been more serious dispatchers can reroute [ambulances] accordingly.”