Warning: This story contains details readers may find distressing.
Seven-year-old Zak Ismail is at home recovering from a traumatic ordeal.
On Friday, his foot was slashed open after stepping on a piece of glass.
His mother called 911 but couldn’t get through to an operator.
Vancouver fire chief says long waits for ambulances are putting others at risk
“So she says to me, ‘Mom, I can’t get a hold of 911,” Ismail’s grandmother Erin Schulte told Global News. “‘I keep calling and it’s a busy signal.’”
Schulte says she rushed to their house in North Delta and drove Ismail to the hospital.
“I finally pull into the yard and she’s carrying him out of the garage,” she said. “And I just say, ‘You know, we can’t wait. Just put him in the car and I’m going to go to the hospital with him.’”
Dispatch system snags add to growing concern over B.C. ambulance delays
She said during the 20-minute drive to Surrey Memorial Hospital, she had one hand on the steering wheel and used the other to try to slow the bleeding.
“He was falling asleep,” Schulte said. “He had lost so much blood that he couldn’t really hold his head up.”
While in hospital, Ismail vomited more than 30 times before he finally received stitches for his wound, Schulte said.
911 horror stories on Vancouver Island
Jasmine Bradley, a spokesperson for E-Comm, which is the first point of contact for 911 callers in 25 B.C. regional districts, said operators forward requests for an ambulance to BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS).
“So the challenge that we were seeing is that our 911 call takers were having to stay on the line with callers until an available BCEHS call taker was able to answer that call,” Bradley said.
“They weren’t able to transfer through to the ambulance dispatch, which is concerning because they never did get through to the ambulance to send an ambulance to the call, it sounds like,” Ambulance Paramedics of BC president Troy Clifford said.
Schulte says her experience illustrates the need for change.
“I really hope that someone that is leading this province will come forward and put some measures in place to work past this,” she said. “What are we going to do? But let’s fix it.”
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.