Elderly woman waits six hours for an ambulance in Ottawa


As the health care system experiences delays in nearly every area, it was an excruciating delay for a 75-year-old Ottawa woman who waited six hours for an ambulance last week.


Her family says Elaine Deschenes fell and fractured her hip, nearly passing out from the pain.


“It was awful because we were feeling that pressure of what can you do and there’s obviously more that you want to do because it was difficult seeing her in that amount of pain every time she slightly moved,” said Cathy Deschenes about her mother-in-law.


Deschenes fell at the end of a driveway while moving a waste bin. She fractured her hip.


“She realized this is pretty serious and I can’t move,” said Deschenes.


Lying on the ground, she called for help and a neighbour rushed over. Her family called 9-1-1 for an ambulance.


“We were also advised that there was eleven ambulances in the queue before my mother-in-law’s call,” she said.


Elaine’s family struggled to get her out of the mud and into the garage, trying not to cause her more pain. It was impossible to move her further as they continued the excruciating wait.


“When you’re in that situation and you’re waiting and you’re dealing with someone who is in a lot of pain, the time just kept ticking and going by,” she said.


A spokesperson for the Ottawa Paramedic Service was not available for an interview on Sunday, but said they will provide an update on Monday.


There’s been a record number of “Level Zero” events in the nation’s capital so far this year, where there are no ambulance crews available to respond to emergency calls.


From January to June, paramedics experienced 725 Level Zero events, compared to 750 in all of 2021.


Elaine Deschenes condition took a turn for the worse at the six-hour mark. 


“She said, ‘I’m going to pass out, I think I’m going, please help,'” said Deschenes.


That’s when they called paramedics back and the call was upgraded.


A paramedic crew from Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry, the closest with an ambulance available, came quickly and transported her to the hospital.


“You don’t want to be in that situation, though, the point of having our paramedics is so that they are there in those critical times,” she said.


Deschenes says thankfully her mother-in-law had family by her side during the entire ordeal, but others may not be as lucky.


Elaine was transported to Winchester Hospital where she had X-Ray’s and was diagnosed with a fractured hip. She has since been transferred to the Ottawa Hospital General Campus, where she’s waiting for surgery. 

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