A Kitimat youngster got more than he bargained for when a routine ambulance transfer from Terrace to Kitimat went horribly wrong last week.
Jay Maitland, who turns 19 this month, had been sent to Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace for an MRI on Wednesday, January 29, after he started having seizures.
Following the scan, Jay was admitted for observation and loaded into an ambulance the following morning for transfer back to Kitimat General Hospital. After securely strapping Jay on the stretcher, the driver set off for Kitimat along Highway 37.
Jay was in the back of the ambulance with the second paramedic discussing Eminem’s latest album, the paramedic filling out paperwork, when the ambulance slid off the highway near Johnson Road on the way up the long hill leading to the Northwest Regional Airport, tumbling down the embankment into a ditch.
“When we went over I was hanging upside down from the stretcher as the ambulance flipped, stuff flying around inside the ambulance, before the ambulance straightened out,” said Jay.
He said “the new stretchers are really good” which is why he didn’t sustain any injuries.
“We waited for the Thornhill Fire Department to come. They picked us up with the ladder which was pretty cool.”
Unphased by his experience, he carried on talking to the paramedic about Eminem’s album while they were being brought up out of the ditch. He said the paramedics were “pretty awesome” and would consider becoming a paramedic, which he said is “a cool job.”
His mom Jenn Maitland, however, didn’t have as pleasant an experience as her son did.
“My experience was mainly seeing Facebook posts about the ambulance and not knowing if it was him in there or not. All the nurse could tell me was that everyone inside the ambulance had been checked out and there were no injuries,” said Jenn.
She said Mills Memorial staff kept telling her not to worry, which she said is “agony for a parent” and just made her worry more.
“It wasn’t until going on to 9 p.m. when I finally heard from him. They said they would be keeping him overnight until the roads were better.”
She said the paramedics deserved special mention for the way they helped Jay through the ordeal.
“He did say the driver felt bad about it but we don’t blame them in the least. We definitely need four-wheel-drive ambulances up here,” she added.
A very relieved mom was at Kitimat General Hospital when Jay’s ambulance arrived in Kitimat just before noon.
BC Emergency Health Services spokesperson Shannon Miller confirmed the incident, adding that road conditions were very slushy at the time of the accident.
“Two paramedic crews from Terrace were called to the scene as were fire first responders, who helped with the patient, moving them to a waiting ambulance to take them back to the Terrace hospital,” said Miller.
“The paramedic crew, reported to be fine, were taken back to Kitimat.”
Miller said routine ambulance transfers were halted until conditions improved on the highway.
– with reporting by Rod Link