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Customer's plea for restaurant staff to call for ambulance goes unheeded

Ailing 69-year-old was told by Prince George McDonald's staff member the manager was unable to immediately respond
This is the downtown Prince George McDonald's restaurant on Victoria Street where restaurant staff failed to immediately act upon the request of a man suffering a medical condition to call for an ambulance.

Sheldon White noticed the man sitting at the table across from him in a downtown Prince George McDonald’s restaurant last Friday and heard him ask a staff member to call for an ambulance because he was not feeling well.

According to White, the restaurant employee told the man he would have to first consult his manager. White was shocked when the employee returned to say it was the store’s policy to not call an ambulance without a manager first assessing the situation and that the person in charge was unavailable to immediately check on the man’s condition.

“Management at McDonald’s failed to let an employee call an ambulance for a guy who was clearly in distress,” said White. “The management didn’t even come out and check on him while we were there.”

White was there for lunch with his co-workers and watched the man, who is 69 years old, sitting with a soft drink on his table. He said nearly five minutes passed with no response from the restaurant manager and asked if he could provide assistance. The man told White he was experiencing shortness of breath and numb fingers and said he suspected it was due to a change in his medication needed to help him deal with the effects of chemotherapy.

“I said screw it and called 9-1-1 and waited for the ambulance to show up and take care of the guy,” said White. “I talked to the first responders that were there and told them that management didn’t want to call and they said sometimes what happens is vagrants will call and waste time.

“I can appreciate that, but the manager didn’t even come out assess the situation and determine if there was anything wrong with the guy. They were just too busy to deal with it. That’s true, you need to know why you’re calling an ambulance, but someone should have come out. He wasn’t dressed like a vagrant. He was sitting in the restaurant after ordering, it wasn’t like he came in and was loitering.”

The man told White he had food with him but didn’t feel like eating and that’s why he just ordered a drink.

White’s wife is an insulin diabetic and he wonders what might happen to her or somebody like her if they happen to go into diabetic shock due to low blood sugar. The symptoms of hypoglycemia – slurred speech, staggering movements, confusion – are similar to being drunk on alcohol. Would they have similar difficulty getting medical help sent to them? White hopes Friday’s incident will serve as a reminder for restaurant managers to always err on the side of caution when a person is showing signs of medical distress.

“They must have someone with first aid there to be able to come out and assess it,” said White. “One of their patrons is requiring an ambulance and you don’t have the decency to go check on him or send  someone to check on him to make sure. You’re just busy?

“I was mad. Who cares if you’re busy. The whole morality of it is questioned.”

The Citizen provided White’s account of what happened and requested comment from McDonald’s corporate head office, which issued the following statement from Brian Boresky, the local franchise owner of the restaurant at 2001 Victoria St:

“As a local business owner, the safety and well-being of my employees and guests is my absolute priority,” said Boresky. “In light of the recent event, I have launched an investigation and will take the appropriate steps to ensure I do everything I can to avoid incidents of this kind in the future.”