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Woman cries foul over medic treatment
City says first responders followed protocol

Miranda Scotland
Northern News Services
Published Friday, June 1, 2012

A Lutsel K'e woman studying in Yellowknife says first responders with the Yellowknife fire department put a woman's life in danger by not taking her to hospital after she fell off a decorative rock in the parking lot at Centre Square Mall.

NNSL photo/graphic

Tina Abel saw a woman fall back and hit her head on the pavement in the parking lot beside Centre Square Mall. Abel said emergency medical technicians should have taken the woman to the hospital but instead they had her picked up by police. - Miranda Scotland/NNSL photo

While walking past the mall May 24 Tina Abel said she saw a woman fall backwards off a rock and hit her head on the paved lot.

The Aurora College student said emergency medical technicians (EMTs) showed up to help the woman and look her over but they didn't take her to the hospital. Instead, they handed her over to police.

"I heard the paramedics say, 'oh, just forget her, she is just drunk,'" said Abel. "'I know the solution; the other one said, they were both laughing. 'We'll just call the cops because it's a good place for her to cool off.'"

When RCMP showed up, they picked the woman up "as if she were some sort of rag doll" and put her in the police truck, said Abel.

Mayor Gord Van Tighem, speaking on behalf of the fire department, said the EMTs were not informed that the woman had a head wound and found no evidence she had. He added that a friend of the patient told the EMTs that the woman had been drinking all day and had laid down for a rest.

The patient was combative and refused to go to the hospital or answer any questions, Van Tighem said. RCMP was called and the woman was taken into custody, where she did not require any further medical assistance, according to Van Tighem.

"(EMTs) are quite experienced in being able to tell if somebody has an injury or not ... (Patients) are very carefully checked out, very carefully monitored to see if there are any bruises or abrasions or difficulty breathing or pain or anything," said Van Tighem. "If there is concern about their ability to navigate then the RCMP are called and then they let them sleep it off."

This was the second time in three days that EMTs had been called to treat the woman in question, he said.

Abel said she has seen the woman downtown before and she was always very friendly. How the EMTs responded to the situation wasn't right, Abel said.

"When I saw something like that it's like 'oh my god, what is that?' It almost brought tears to my eyes and I'm still upset about it," she said.

Abel's nephew Jamie Landry said he was also present during the incident. Landry said he too was bothered by how the EMTs reacted to the situation.

"It doesn't matter if you're drunk or sober, if you hit the back of your head and you have a head injury and you're knocked out cold you should go to the hospital," he said.

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