When you're faced with an emergency your reaction to dial 911 is almost immediate. We know the number as our lifeline to safety and assistance during a crisis. From the operator to the ambulance that arrives on scene, we've built up a sense of trust in the system to always provide help to those that desperately need it.
This definitely was not the case for a family in Ile Bizard last week, who almost lost their son due to 911 literally putting them on hold instead of sending help immediately.
It all started at the toddler's daycare when he began to experience convulsions and go into a life-threatening seizure. The daycare director promptly called 911, right afterwards calling the child's mother to get there as soon as possible.
As soon as the director called for an ambulance, they were instantly put on hold. No operator, no one advising her to wait, no "wait time" music. A completely dead line that offered even more fear in this time of crisis. She thought fast and quickly dialed again on her personal phone. Another line on hold. Time was of the essence as the child continued to seize.
A few minutes later, the boy's mother arrived at the daycare with both phones still on hold with 911. For context, the first call was made at 3:10PM. They did not speak to an operator until 3:25PM. An ambulance did not arrive at the scene until 3:45PM.
Luckily, thanks to the quick thinking of the daycare, they were able to recruit city workers in the area to notify the fire department just down the street that they needed immediate help. The fire fighters helped the child until an ambulance showed up later on.
For the family of the toddler, their trust in the system has been completely broken. Without the 911 operator even asking what the emergency was before putting them on hold, someone could have been experiencing a heart attack or an even worse disaster. If the wait times had been that long again, a person in that situation would not have pulled through.
Thankfully, the boy is perfectly fine now thanks to the quick thinking of those around him. It's uncertain what the future is for our emergency line, and if more people are being put on hold than they would like to admit.