The family of a 53-year-old Manitoba man, who died days after waiting six and a half hours for an air ambulance following a heart attack, are demanding answers from the Manitoba provincial authorities, as they believe his health could have been compromised by the wait. Gordon Jebb, who suffered a heart attack on July 2nd at his home on Opaskwayak Cree Nation, near The Pas, died only days later, on July 5th.
Jebb’s daughter, Chenae Bear, believes there could have been a chance that her father survived, had the response from the air ambulance been adequate. She told CBC News, "...He might have survived. We will never know that. But that option was completely taken away. And that angers me very much as his daughter."
Jebb suffered a heart attack at his home on the morning of July 2nd. His family reports that 911 was called, and Jebb was taken by land ambulance to the hospital in The Pas at about 10:30 AM. He was treated there for a number of hours before doctors decided he must be transferred to the hospital in Winnipeg.
While on life support, Jebb and his family were forced to wait six and a half hours for the air ambulance to arrive, a wait which Jebb’s daughter says added to the family’s trauma.
"It shouldn't have taken that long. A plane should have been there immediately and there should've been people waiting on standby to go with him," said Bear.
Sadly, Jebb did not regain consciousness and died in Winnipeg on July 5.
The air ambulance’s severe delay comes amid a long period of uncertainty for Lifeline pilots, who have voiced safety concerns about the private King Air 200s planes that replaced the program's two Cessna Citation jets during the province's ongoing privatization of Lifeline. The doctors are now flying again.
Renate Singh, Lifeflight's medical director, told CBC, "Patient care needs to continue, so we've accepted the bare minimum changes that we consider to make our service safe.”
Singh added, "That's why we agreed to get back flying, just because no one else is going to agree to go get these people if we don't do it."
Jebb's death has drawn online criticism of the government, as some members of the public believe the Progressive Conservative government's privatization of Manitoba air ambulances, which was the reason for aircraft replacements, is to blame.
@CBCManitoba This is what happens when Conservative governments privatize our healthcare. @BrianPallister not only… https://t.co/nFcIRryylG— Karen Kehler 🇨🇦🍷🌼 (@Karen Kehler 🇨🇦🍷🌼)1563346080.0
@CBCManitoba Horrific story and so needless. Happy now, Pallister? The statement by the gov't spokesperson was garb… https://t.co/dCSZ4O9ZIs— Auntie Alias (@Auntie Alias)1563338019.0
@CBCManitoba The haven’t fixed a damn thing. Waited 3 hours for a plane that didn’t come, had to drive 6 hours thro… https://t.co/CqbGVZrpLa— Water Doc (@Water Doc)1563360880.0
The NDP Member of Legislative Assembly for The Pas, Amanda Lathlin, is standing with the family as they demand answers from the province. Lathlin said she wants answers as to what the province's plan was in the weeks the Lifeflight doctors didn't fly. She said, "We had a system in place, I cannot stress that enough, we had a system in place that was working."
In response, a spokesperson for the province confirmed that the case was being reviewed. In a statement, they wrote, "We extend our sympathies to friends and family of Gordon Jebb for their loss.” The statement continued, “While privacy laws prevent us from going into details of a particular case, this patient received continuous care from providers throughout this process.”
Speaking of her father, Bear said, "He was just a kind, loving person and I loved him very much, and I miss him very much, and I just feel like that was a terrible way to go."
She added, “Just because of where he lived, it shouldn't have affected the medical treatment he received. He loved living in the north. That was his home."
Narcity has reached out to Lifeflight for comment and we will update this story when we receive a response.