Good Samaritan stuck on hold with 911 after woman struck by car in Victoria
When a woman on bike was struck by a vehicle in front of Budget Brake and Muffler in downtown Victoria on Thursday morning, staff at the shop jumped into action.
"We were quick on scene and called 911," said Ryan Burghardt, owner of Budget Brake and Muffler.
The problem was, nobody answered.
"Eleven minutes on hold to get through to the ambulance," Burghardt told CTV News.
When someone calls 911, that call is answered by E-Comm. If an ambulance is needed, the call taker will stay on the line and put you through to BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS).
E-Comm says BCEHS is often unavailable to answer on its end, due to call volumes and staffing shortages.
On Thursday morning, the average wait to get through to E-Comm was anywhere between one to five minutes.
"That's all being driven by our 911 call takers having to keep trying to transfer calls to the ambulance service, which makes them unavailable to answer other incoming emergency calls for police, fire or ambulance," said Jasmine Bradley, executive director of communications for E-Comm 9-1-1.
In July, the province announced that it will be expanding ambulance services by hiring 85 full-time paramedics in large urban centres. It will also be hiring 30 new full-time ambulance dispatchers.
On Thursday, B.C.'s premier was asked if he thinks it’s acceptable for people to be waiting on hold during an emergency.
"No, it's not," said Premier John Horgan. "That's why the (health minister) and others will have more to say on that in the hours ahead, if not by tomorrow, in terms of how we're going to try to fill some of these gaps."
With a potential fix coming soon, the owner of Budget Brake and Muffler hopes the next time he sees someone needing an ambulance outside his business, help will answer in only seconds, not minutes.
The woman on the bike was reportedly alert after the crash and was taken to hospital in "stable condition," according to BCEHS.