Should hospital volunteers provide emergency aid?

Peterborough, ON, Canada / CHEX TV
Should hospital volunteers provide emergency aid?

A Peterborough man says hospitals need to review their policies when it comes to volunteers. This after a woman collapsed at Northumberland Hills Hospital in Cobourg on Tuesday. And he says no one came to her aid. Greg Davis has the details.

Patrick Ahern: A turtle gets hit on the side of road is met with more compassion and dignity than this womwe-06-pkg-nhh-death-mxf-00_01_31_21-still003an felt in the foyer of the hospital – she made it to the hospital.

On Tuesday Patrick Ahern arrived to Northumberland Hills hospital to vis it a friend just as an ambulance arrived to the foyer.

A senior had collapsed and was vital signs absent but Ahern says it appeared no one was helping the woman.

Instead, hospital volunteers were directing pedestrian traffic.

Ahern: I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. I can’t even being to fathom the fact her husband was standing beside her watching all this all go on.

Ahern says someone should have gone to the woman’s aid before paramedics arrived to perform CPR. She was taken away on a gurney and was later pronounced dead, according to Ahern.

Ahern: Nobody was doing anything – it seemed they were trying to find a leader – it took 3 to 5 minutes for an ambulance to get the foyer – that’s unacceptable.

Hospital president and CEO Linda Davis says the situation is under review. But, she says the volunteers followed protocol by calling for an ambulance.we-06-pkg-nhh-death-mxf-00_00_22_26-still001

Davis: We instruct our volunteers to be able to call for assistance in an emergency situation.
We do not expect volunteers to deliver that care.

She notes volunteers are not trained to deliver the proper level of medical care.

Davis: We expect that level of care to come from our professional hospital staff

Ahern: This woman didn’t receive the treatment we should be expecting in the province of Ontario and in the great country of Canada – this was Third World.

Greg Davis: He also argues that volunteers are protected under Ontario’s Good Samaritan Act. It offer legal protection and is intended to reduce a bystanders’ hesitation to help for fear of being used or causing unintentional injury.

Davis: Defwe-06-pkg-nhh-death-mxf-00_01_29_00-still002initely if an individual chooses to (help) or suggests that they are able to then by all means we aren’t suggesting they cannot in that situation. But truly we are trying to provide all our volunteers with what our guidelines with what our expectations are.

Ahern says the policies need to be reviewed to ensure the best possible care can be provided.

Ahern: Yesterday we failed this poor woman and her family and I don’t think its right

The Peterborough Regional Health Centre says it has a similar policy for its volunteers who do receive training to help them address emergency situations.


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