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Saskatoon woman waited more than an hour for ambulance during suspected heart attack


A retired nurse in Saskatoon says she waited for more than an hour for paramedics to arrive while experiencing heart attack symptoms.

Sharon Chartier, 63, said after calling 911 in early February, she was told there were no ambulances available.

"I was kind of in shock and they just said to call back if things worsen."Chartier said she unlocked her door so the paramedics could enter when they arrived and laid down on the floor in case she passed out or her heart stopped.

She says she began calling loved ones to say goodbye.

"I didn't know if I was having a heart attack or what was going on," Chartier told CTV News.

After about an hour of waiting, Chartier says she received a call saying paramedics were on the way.

"I was incredibly traumatized, I was crying," she said. Chartier says she was taken to City Hospital, which the paramedics said was the "least busy emergency department."

There, she waited for another hour with the paramedics to be admitted.

"While I was laying in the ambulance, I talked to the paramedic and I said 'how often does this happen' and he said 'it happens all the time.'"

Chartier says once she was admitted, she "got really good care."

"They did a bunch of tests and they ruled out heart attacks and ended up being discharged. But I was really disturbed."

Rattled by her experience, Chartier contacted her MLA, the NDP's Nathaniel Teed, which led to the opposition raising her story in the Saskatchewan legislature on Wednesday.

"Sharon is my constituent and this government failed her when she needed it the most," Teed said.

"She spent her career as a registered nurse looking after others in our health care system. and when she needed the health care system to be there for her, this government let her down," Teed said.

Chartier's story comes to light the same week as the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses described the state of the province's healthcare system as "scary", saying at one point last week Regina General Hospital was turning patients away from its emergency department.

While health minister Paul Merriman agreed that what Chartier described was "not acceptable", he said the Sask. Party government has made progress in cutting down response times for paramedics, saying the average wait had dropped by 40 per cent since December.

"We have some more work to do on this Mr. Speaker, but there are some peak times out there where ambulances will be busy," Merriman said during question period.

"We're continuing to work with our ambulance providers, as well as our emergency rooms, as well as the people in hospitals to make sure that the flow of the hospital is what we need it to be," Merriman said.

As for Chartier, she says she wanted to share her experience so people in Saskatchewan are aware that this could potentially happen to them.

"I think the main thing of the story was that this can happen, this is happening. It doesn't happen all the time. But we don't know when it'll happen," she said.

"And just so the government would know so they would act faster to solve this. It's incredibly dangerous." Top Stories

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