Friday, July 16, 2021

Province to improve ambulance response and offer support for emergency workers, but some rural communities have concerns

The province of British Columbia outlined some new measures ahead for the provincial ambulance service this week, with Health Minister Adrian presenting the new plan with a Wednesday information session.

At his presentation the Health Minister charted a course for the Ambulance Service that will see the province act immediately towards a range of additional supports, among them:

85 new full-time paramedics;
30 full-time dispatchers;
22 new ambulances; and converting 22 rural ambulance stations to 24/7 ALPHA stations to enhance ambulance coverage for these communities.
Six are scheduled to be running by October 2021.
Plans for up to an additional 16 stations will be ready by October 2021.

The information release from Wednesday does not indicate which communities will be seeing the enhanced service levels as the program rolls out.

“When we call for help, we need to know help is on the way, and that it will arrive quickly. Immediate action on operations, as well as stronger leadership and increased investment at BC Emergency Health Services, will deliver a more effective ambulance service for patients and families who depend on it. Better support for paramedics and dispatchers will help them do the vital work we count on every day.” -- Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.

Mr. Dix's presentation can be viewed below:

The measures announced this week come in the wake of the recent extended period of extreme heat in the lower Mainland which saw hundreds of British Columbians, many of them senior citizens or elders, die as a result of the conditions. 

Something which did generate some significant heat for the provincial government.

While the additional staff and supports will be welcomed across the province, in the Northwest officials in Burns Lake have many questions and concerns about the program and how it may impact on their ow level of service.

At a recent Burns Lake Council session, that community's Fire Chief relayed his concerns over what makes for a reasonable response time and the nature of staffing for the local ambulance station. 

The topic is one that Prince Rupert City Council may wish to invite the Prince Rupert Fire/Rescue Chief to an upcoming Council session to share some thoughts on the new measures.

Considering those concerns and the ongoing topic of health care on the North Coast, MLA Jennifer Rice may also want to provide some background notes on the ambulance plans for her constituents, offering some details to whether the new program will make for any changes in the Prince Rupert area and if the Burns Lake concerns should be shared by local officials.

For notes on the work of Emergency Responders in the Northwest see our archive page here.

Items of interest from the Province can be found from our archive page here.

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