A Montreal area-woman survived a vicious attack by a polar bear in Manitoba, only to receive more than $13,000 in medical bills when she got home.

Erin Greene was working a short-term contract in Churchill, Manitoba last fall, when early one morning she was attacked by a polar bear on the street.

“He bit onto the top of my head and was sort of using his paws as leverage to rip off my scalp essentially,” she explained.

She was saved when a man and his neighbours fought off the bear.

But not before she suffered life-threatening injuries.

“He bit into my shoulders, he scratched my belly, scratched open my knee, and when the man came out to save me, bill, I was about two feet off the ground and the bear was just shaking me in his mouth,” she said.

She was brought by ambulance to a hospital in Churchill, but had lost a lot of blood.

Doctors there decided it would be best to send her to Winnipeg, which is about 1,700 kilometres south of Churchill by train.

She made the trip in an air ambulance.

Last Monday, she received a bill for the ride totaling nearly $12,000.

Add that to the bill for the ground ambulance, and Greene will be paying more than $13,000 for the care she received in Manitoba.

She says she learned the hard way that not every medical expense is taken care of if you are travelling out of province, but within Canada.

"The rule is that if you're in Quebec and you need an air ambulance, so if you're in Northern Quebec and you need to fly to Montreal, that's paid for. if you're in another province, its not," Greene said.

“I mean I don't mind a few thousand, but $12,000-plus? Because she also had to pay the ground ambulance. I don't think that patients should be left to pay that high a bill,” said Johanna Greene, Erin’s mother.

Still, the mom said she’s ecstatic to be able to share a cup of tea with her daughter.

“I thank the lord every day . . . that she's able to go on,” she said.

Greene’s friends are holding fundraisers to help her pay the bill.

She said she will try to dispute the costs, but in the meantime the province of Manitoba has put her on a payment plan for the full amount.

According to Greene, the moral of her story is to never assume you're fully covered for health care even if you're a Canadian travelling within Canada.

“If you're going to another province, you should definitely look into what's covered and get insurance because that's what I would do now,” she said.