B.C. ambulance carrying injured cyclist stuck half an hour waiting for train

Regulations say crossings have to be cleared immediately for emergency vehicles

An injured cyclist waited half an hour for a train to clear the tracks at Kennedy Road in Pitt Meadows on Sunday before the ambulance carrying her was able to continue to Royal Columbian Hospital.

That has Pitt Meadows Fire and Rescue Chief Don Jolley wanting answers and an explanation about why the track was blocked for so long.

The woman was part of a cycling event that morning and crashed into the ditch, about three metres deep. A fellow cyclist jumped into the ditch to help the woman, who was laying in mud, unable to move because of her injuries.

Firefighters used a basket and ropes to pull her to safety. But when ambulance crews tried to get her to hospital, they couldn’t cross the tracks because of the railway traffic.

“It’s very frustrating,” Jolley said.

Firefighters were trying to get the nearby crews to clear the crossing, but to no avail.

“It’s a good thing she didn’t have very serious injuries,” Jolley added.

“The frustrating part is we were right there beside the crossing. It’s not like they didn’t see us. They absolutely saw us all there.”

Ridge Meadows RCMP were also on scene trying to get the train to move.

Jolley said the track was blocked for at least half an hour.

“Very frustrating and disappointing and witnessed by dozens of other cyclists, racers and members of the public that were sitting there.”

He said crews initially cleared the crossing, then blocked it again with a train shunting back and forth.

“Which basically left the ambulance unable to leave for almost 30 minutes. It’s impossible that they didn’t know we were there.”

Jolley said he’s talking to Transport Canada about the delay. According to Transport Canada’s grade crossing regulations, trains have to clear a crossing immediately for emergency vehicles.

Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker said such incidents don’t happen often.

“Something has gone seriously wrong with what are usually reasonably well-working protocols. They’re pretty good with emergency vehicles.”

He’ll be asking for a city staff report on the incident.

The federal government recently announced $56 million in funding for four railway crossings in Pitt Meadows and Port Coquitlam, including an overpass the Kennedy Road, but major funding gaps remain.

He said there should be emergency contact numbers at each crossing to allow responders to ask the crossing to be cleared.

Canadian Pacific said Tuesday it’s looking into the issue but offered no further comment.

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(THE NEWS/files) Crossing at Kennedy Road in Pitt Meadows.

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