Nova Scotia

EHS disputes time it took ambulance to arrive at dying N.S. woman's home

Nova Scotia's ambulance service has issued a statement disputing its response time to an emergency call in Bass River on Feb. 8.

Widower says he is '100% certain' it took EHS longer than 42 minutes to arrive

Kevin George says if he had known how long an ambulance would take to arrive at his Bass River, N.S., home, he would have driven his wife, April George, to hospital. (Submitted by Justin Rushton)

It took paramedics 42 minutes to reach the home of a dying Nova Scotia woman earlier this month  — about half the time her bereaved husband said it took for help to arrive, the province's ambulance service said Friday.

Emergency Health Services issued a statement disputing its response time to the emergency call in Bass River on the morning of Feb. 8 after April George collapsed at home. The 46-year-old woman later died.

Her husband, Kevin George, said he remains confident in his memory of that morning.

"I do not agree with it. One hundred per cent I know what time I seen," he said.

George said he immediately called 911 after finding his wife on the floor of their home.

He said the clock showed 9:55 a.m.

"I can still picture it in my eyes, and see it," he said. "I started performing CPR ... to try to save my wife."

When an ambulance arrived, it was 11:24, said George.

"The way I feel, if I had known help wasn't coming, I probably could have gotten my wife to emergency and tried to deliver her in the vehicle myself," he said.

EHS claims 42-minute response

Emergency Health Services, a branch of the provincial Health Department that provides ambulance service, said paramedics took 42 minutes to reach George's home due to severe weather conditions.

"While we cannot disclose clinical details of the event due to privacy legislation, we would like to clarify some operational points we feel are important to share," EHS manager Phil Stewart said in an email.

"EHS paramedic crew responded immediately from Truro after receiving the 911 call to our EHS Medical Communications Centre and arrived at the scene 42 minutes later."

No firefighter response

George said he is upset that local firefighters weren't able to respond to his emergency call, even though there is a station near the home he shared with his wife.

"Why weren't they there? That's a question I have," he said. "And why did they keep telling me on the phone help was minutes away?"

A statement from EHS says its thoughts are with the George family, 'as well as our employees, who feel each loss experienced.' (Craig Paisley/CBC)

EHS has said firefighters had not yet received training to respond to emergencies during the pandemic, though that training has since been completed.

"The Bass River [fire department] was fitted for masks and trained in proper PPE [personal protective equipment] use last week, along with several other area MFR [medical first response] agencies, training which was set in December and completed on Feb. 11," Stewart said.

'We understand and empathize,' says EHS

EHS said in its statement that its thoughts are with the George family, "as well as our employees, who feel each loss experienced."

"We understand and empathize with the concerns being made about ambulance response times and availability," Stewart said.