Residents who live around Gardom Lake are concerned that an ambulance was not called on March 19, 2021 by a 911 dispatcher for a woman with severe burns. (Contributed)

Residents who live around Gardom Lake are concerned that an ambulance was not called on March 19, 2021 by a 911 dispatcher for a woman with severe burns. (Contributed)

Lack of 911 response to severe burns leaves Gardom Lake residents worried

Dispatch unable to find Shuswap address so no ambulance called, no response from promised nurse

Faced with a terrifying emergency, Patty Mead expected to get help when she called 911.

But it was not to be.

Mead lives at Gardom Lake and rents out a separate house to tenants. On March 19, she and her tenants were enjoying a campfire nearby. She went home to go to bed about 10 p.m.

The woman, who Mead wished not to name, was alone by the fire when her adult son, who went inside the house for a couple of minutes, heard her cry out.

Heading back outside, he was horrified to see his mother trying to get out of the burning fire.

Mead explains that the woman must have had her back to the fire and, because the fire pit has a bit of a lip, stepped back, lost her balance and fell in.

Her son managed to pull her out, burning his hands doing so, but she was badly burnt, in shock and panicking. Mead said she hit her head, had severe burns on her arm and side, as well as lesser burns on her face.

Because there is no cell service where Mead lives, she went and grabbed her land-line phone and came back. She called 911 and reached a dispatcher, but no help was to be found.

Read more: The turtle didn’t cross the road, thanks for Gardom Lake group

Read more: Longtime resident loon at Gardom Lake found dead from lead poison

Mead surmised afterwards that perhaps the reason was because the address at Gardom Lake is listed in Enderby – in the 700 block of Park Road – and the land line is based in Salmon Arm.

Mead said she tried to maintain her composure while the dispatcher, based in Surrey, asked questions such as whether there was a park nearby, was she in a campground with a fire pit, and such.

Mead said she was then told that an ambulance would not be sent because the dispatcher could not find the address on their map. She was also told that a nurse would be put on the line to help with providing first aid.

However, a nurse didn’t get on the phone; Mead noted that the recording as she waited said the lines were busy that night. She was also told if she got cut off, to phone back.

Mead said the woman’s husband was also calling from a land line and getting the same result.

She estimates they waited about 15 minutes until she decided just to drive the woman to Shuswap Lake General Hospital in Salmon Arm. Altogether, with the wait and the drive, Mead estimates it was 45 minutes until the woman arrived at the hospital.

After that, she was taken to hospital in Kamloops and then flown to the burn unit at Vancouver General where she underwent skin grafts.

Read more: With a fire hall down the street, B.C. mom questions response time for son’s seizure

Read more: After a night of one-hour waits for ambulances, union goes public with concerns

Mead pointed to the need for change in several areas.

One is having dispatch in Surrey, she said, where operators are unfamiliar with the area.

Mead said she doesn’t blame the dispatchers, as they can only work with the information they’re given. However, it’s unacceptable for someone to be told their address can’t be found, when the local ambulance and fire service would have been there in minutes.

Another is the lack of cell service. And the problem with the address, which she thinks perhaps the Columbia Shuswap Regional District could help remedy. She also didn’t think it was right to be put on hold to wait for a nurse in such an emergency situation.

She said she has been told by MLA Greg Kyllo and BC Emergency Health Services that they are looking into the incident.

Mead said the March 19 incident has concerned many people. A lot of seniors live at Gardom Lake as well it being home to a public park and a bible camp.

“It’s worrisome if it happens again to someone else.”


marthawickett@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

#Salmon ArmEmergency calls

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The future of the Eagle Pass Lookout cabin is being discussed. (File photo)
Options presented for future of former Eagle Pass fire lookout in Shuswap

Stakeholders met in 2020 to discuss the restoration, or possible removal of the cabin

FILE — In this March 31, 2021 file photo, a nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaxmobile, at the Uniondale Hempstead Senior Center, in Uniondale, N.Y. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
72 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases in the region to 9,666 since the pandemic began

The Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap Society will be expanding its offerings to seniors this year and hopes to return its Cyber Seniors program when one-to-one training is once again allowed. (Photo contributed)
Shuswap organization aims to help seniors become more cyber savvy

BC Hydro report finds seniors reluctant to use

The Salmon Arm RCMP are investigating a Saturday, April 10 gathering at Blackburn Park for provincial health order violations. (Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm RCMP investigating Blackburn Park rally

Police say more than 200 people in attendance

Salmon Arm Homes for Rent/Sale Etc. is a popular Facebook page used by those with places for rent and people in need of them. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Carpenter building homes in Salmon Arm unable to find place to rent

Property manager says it’s easier to find work in Salmon Arm than a place to live

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. sees 873 more COVID-19 cases Tuesday, decline continues

Hospitalizations up to 377, two more deaths for 1,515 total

(Mayor Cindy Fortin - Peachland)
Peachland mayor declines early vaccination offer

Mayor Cindy Fortin said she wants seniors, immunocompromised individuals to get the shot first

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Feb. 23, 2021. (Kamloops This Week photo)
Clothing that ‘detracts from learning process’ removed from SD73 student dress code

Policy change underway after student in knee-length dress, long-sleeve turtleneck sent home

Conservation officers caught three men over fishing bull trout in Kinbasket Lake. (Facebook)
B.C. men fined $1.7K for overfishing near Revelstoke, Golden

The seized fish were donated to the Golden Food Bank

A shop up on Grand Oro Road near Twin Lakes burned down on Monday. (Facebook)
Fire rips through shop in small South Okanagan town

The building was destroyed despite community efforts to fight the fire

WATCH: Conservation group releases short doc on saving South Okanagan’s ‘precious’ Sickle Point

Sickle Point, the last intact wetland near Skaha Lake, is facing the prospect of development

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Skaha Lake Middle School. (File photo)
COVID exposure at Penticton middle school

Skaha Middle School is the latest in growing lists of exposure in the Okanagan

Most Read