Emergency Response Fails Crohn’s Disease Patient During Medical Crisis in Antigua

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

Dear Editor,

I’m not going to go into all the details and would like to remain anonymous until I can get a better understanding of why this happened.

I arrived on the island Sunday, 16/06/2024.

My phone stopped working a few days later, so I purchased an additional pass to make local calls. I was able to make one call to my pharmacist in the States to get my prescriptions.

I take multiple medications for Crohn’s Disease, gastroparesis, and high blood pressure.

I received a prescription for the medications from the Bolans Clinic. I was not able to get them filled that day because I don’t have a medical benefit card. I was referred to the health center. My blood pressure was 195/104 (I can get the exact number).

The following day, I woke up feeling bad. My head was hurting, so I knew my pressure was up. My equilibrium was off. I felt as if I was going to pass out. I was at home by myself, so I called 911.

First person I spoke to: I explained my concerns and begged them to come. I was afraid. They asked me where I was. I said Urlings. They asked me for directions.

I explained I did not know how to give directions as I am not familiar. He instructed me to WALK to one of the neighbors and ask them. Mind you, I am in a medical emergency. I made it to the neighbor, which took a while, and he explained he was not from Antigua and was not familiar with giving directions.

He told me to walk down to the bread shop, and someone in the bread shop would be able to help me. Mind you, I am still in a medical emergency. I walked to the bread shop. I walked as safely as I could because I was afraid I would fall and hurt myself. I have fallen before. I made it to the bread shop where I saw a young lady wearing a yellow shirt that said “security” on the back. I asked her if she could give the ambulance directions to where I was. She took my phone and spoke to someone on the phone, giving them directions. She was on her way to work.

Second person: After she handed me back my phone, the gentleman on the phone asked me why I was calling. I explained that I was having a medical emergency and that my blood pressure was high. He asked me how I knew it was high. I responded because I have high blood pressure and I can feel it.

His response: “So you can feel when your blood pressure is high?” Yes, I’ve had high blood pressure since 1996. I know what it feels like when my blood pressure is high. I further explained that I had been to the Bolans Clinic and had my blood pressure checked a few days previous, and my blood pressure was high at that time. I had not taken any medication since then, so I know it did not go down. He said he would be sending the ambulance.

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I then had to walk back from the shop to the house where I am staying for my visit. I entered the home. I opened the front door, left it open, and returned to the bedroom to collect my things for when the ambulance came.

Almost an hour later, I was informed by the young lady that someone had attempted to call her number back, but she was at work and had put her phone on do not disturb, so she did not get the call. But when she called back, they informed her that they had already been to the house and had waited 15 minutes outside, and no one came out. She then asked me if I still needed the ambulance, and I told her yes. She told me to call 911.

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When I called back 911, a woman answered. She informed me that the ambulance had already come and left. I told her that’s impossible. I explained that there’s no way that an ambulance came to the home and I did not see it. I have been in the house.

The door is open. There’s no way that I did not hear them when they came. She then began to argue with me. The 911 operator that I am calling for help is arguing with me on the phone, telling me that yes, they did come.

As I’m speaking to her on the line, the EMTs pull up. I then informed Ms. that the call was being recorded. She did not care and continued to argue with me. I then hung up and went to the gate to meet the EMTs. Once I was placed in the ambulance and they checked my blood pressure, my blood pressure was 240/140.

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I could have had a stroke. I could’ve had a heart attack just because this woman was arguing with me, the patient, on the phone, telling me that her people had already been there and waited for 15 minutes while in front of the house. They placed an IV in my arm, and they turned the lights on all the way to the hospital.

I must say I was very impressed with how quickly and how safely they got me to the hospital, but Ms. needs to be the person who needs better training to answer the 911 calls. I am, but I have not lived here for years, so I do not know who I need to contact.

At the hospital, my blood pressure went down to 174/104, which lets me know that just arguing with her on the phone raised my blood pressure so high I could have had a stroke. I could’ve had a heart attack.

I can’t believe that I was asked to leave the safety of the home and walk to a shop, and walk to neighbors after I said my blood pressure was high. My head was hurting. My vision was blurry.

911 is for medical emergencies, and I feel that I could have lost my life that day.

If you can point me in the right direction, I would appreciate it. If not, my family and I are going to take this to social media. This was not acceptable.

She needs better training. Period!

Please assist if you can.

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of (ANR). The accuracy of any claims made within this article is the responsibility of the author. ANR is not liable for any errors, omissions, or representations in this content.

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