More voices added to ALS plea

By Geoff Lee

January 12, 2016 11:03 AM

Several Lloydminster seniors said they hope their real life medical emergencies will motivate Alberta Health Services and Prairie North Health Region to quickly sign bi-provincial contracts with service provider WPD Ambulance to see advanced life support paramedic service for the city.
Knowing the squeaky wheel gets the grease, Dr. Raffath Sayeed said it’s time people spoke out about the need for ALS service in Lloydminster.
“It’s about time they had it,” said Sayeed, whose own life was at risk when he needed a pacemaker three years ago.
He said when someone needs a pacemaker, that simply means his or her heart isn’t working and needs to be boosted making it an “emergent/urgent” situation where anything can go wrong.
“If something goes wrong you need people with advanced life care support,” said Sayeed, a GP who’s been in practice in Lloydminster for more than 40 years.
In Sayeed’s case, he needed to be transferred from Lloydminster Hospital to the Royal Alexandra in Edmonton, and that meant a 45 minute wait for the nearest ALS ambulance in Vermilion.
His own physician wouldn’t let him out of his sight until the ALS ambulance picked him up.
“He would not let me do anything so I had to sit there and wait because anything can happen,” Sayeed recalled.
In a reversal, Sayeed has also ridden along with a critically ill patient in an EMT ambulance to Edmonton when they just couldn’t wait for a medical plane or an ALS ambulance.
“This one happened to be an emergency situation. We could not wait for the aircraft to come,” he said.
“We just saved the 45 minutes and probably save this gentlemen’s life.”
The doctor, fortunately, didn’t have to perform any life-saving treatments en route, but he noted ridealongs take him away from treating his own patients when a paramedic should be available.
Yet another senior is also ready to add his testimonial to the cause of getting ALS service..
“A place like Lloydminster certainly should have an ambulance with adequate personnel to take people like myself to Edmonton or Saskatoon,” Earl Swift said.
Swift needed a hospital transfer last fall in an ALS ambulance ordered from Vermilion following a suspected case of pneumonia that hit him hard.
“As for it being a life threatening situation, I can’t judge that,” he said, noting the ambulance was called in at 8:30 a.m., but he didn’t get into Edmonton until about 4 p.m. later that day.
Alana McConnell said she’ll never know if paramedics could have saved the life of Dustin, her 17-year-old son who drowned in 2010 while swimming at Sandy Beach, but she wished he’d at least been given the chance.
Her son was pulled out of the cold water after being submerged for 20 minutes
“His trachea had blocked off and an EMT can’t intubate and they cannot give him drugs to restart his heart,” said McConnell.
“That 10 minute ride back into Lloydminster really sealed his fate.”
McConnell said ALS will make a difference to somebody and that’s why she is one many residents who are pushing to get paramedic service in the city.
“One voice is heard, but a 100 voices make a difference,” McConnell said.
McConnell is also helping to raise funds to train paramedics through a bursary in her son’s name.
She runs various events, including an annual Walk With Dustin around Bud Miller Park that brought in $4,000 last year.

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