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The Pender Island rescue team

The journey began on Pender Island and ended in the trauma room at Victoria General Hospital.
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Despite the tough moments along the way, Pender Island resident Erin Spencer has nothing but praise for the BC Ambulance Service paramedics who made sure she survived a life-threatening situation and delivered her safely to hospital.

On Saturday October 15, a storm began to kick up and ferries were being cancelled. Thirty-seven year old Erin Spencer, a nurse for almost 14 years, discovered she was hemorrhaging badly. She was 15 days post-op for uterine surgery. She called 9-1-1 and dispatcher Peter Barzilay and the team from Vancouver Island Dispatch, began caring for her and coordinating her journey. 

Pender Island paramedics Alex Miniato and Melissa Camelon picked her up at the Port Browning Pub on Pender Island and took her to the island’s only medical clinic. The doctor determined she needed to get to a hospital quickly.

Fortunately for Spencer, a water ambulance was already nearby. The boat had been alerted to a potential situation and began making its way through the waves to the dock where they met the first crew. 

“It is very difficult for a nurse to be a patient, and they really made me feel as though we were working together on my problem, a team of peers” said Spencer. “I appreciated that.”

Spencer says she and paramedics Susan Lindsay and Ryan Michno were tossed around like rag dolls in the boat, yet she says they monitored and cared for her, and even complimented her on staying calm despite her deteriorating condition from rapid blood loss. 

At Swartz Bay she was met by paramedics Nik Southwell and Annie Brothwell, who carefully sped through the stormy weather to get her to Victoria General Hospital. By this point she recalls she had lost so much blood she was barely able to thank them as they wheeled her into the ER. 

“It was beautiful in a way, watching them coordinate their services so flawlessly, knowing that time was of the essence and knowing the weather was working against us,” said Spencer. “I’m not certain if you will ever be able to reach the BCAS staff who helped me, but I want them to know I would not be alive if not for their efforts. I am truly, deeply grateful.” 

BC Ambulance Service; recognition; local heroes; BCEHS
SOURCE: The Pender Island rescue team ( )
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