Hayes Creek Fire Chief Rob Miller said the incident underscores the important role first responders play in medical emergencies in rural areas. Photo submitted.

Ambulance took one hour to reach rural accident scene

Okanagan man airlifted after being hit while on tractor

A Osprey Lake area man was flown to hospital in Kelowna last Saturday after a truck hit the tractor he was driving on Princeton Summerland Road

The 56-year-old suffered a fractured back and other injuries, but is expected to make a full recovery, according to Rob Miller, chief of the Hayes Creek Volunteer Fire Department.

Miller said the incident underscores the important role first responders play in medical emergencies in rural areas.

Hayes Creek was notified of the accident – at approximately the 42 kilometer mark on the road – at 10:15 a.m.

“It took us 10 minutes to get there. It took [the ambulance] one hour.”

When the fire department arrived on the scene the victim was going into shock, said Miller. He was assessed and wrapped in blankets.

First responders set up critical traffic control on a nearby sharp and blind corner. They also established a landing zone for the en route air ambulance, which could not have landed in the snow without constant communication with the ground crew.

“In this case they tried to land in a meadow and it’s a white out with no visibility…it took us a while to get them down.”

The helicopter eventually landed in a neighboring driveway, but paramedics could not reach it to transfer the patient because there was three to four inches of snow.

“Fire radioed one of its members to bring a backhoe from home, and plow the driveway,” said Miller. “This took about 20 minutes.”

In recent weeks both Miller and Chief Dave Stringfellow, of the Erris Volunteer Fire Department, have been critical of a new British Columbia Emergency Health Services protocol that results in their crews are not always dispatched as first responders to medical emergencies in their communities.

They are always dispatched in the case of a vehicle accident, however.

Miller said in the past his department has frequently had to shuttle paramedics to an incident because their ambulances cannot negotiate many of the driveways in the area.

A survey indicates approximately 40 per cent of the homes in the Hayes Creek area cannot be accessed by an ambulance, even without snow.

“The driveways are just too steep,” he said.

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andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

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