Mid-island communities are the most dominant call areas for air ambulance transports this year. (BC Emergency Health Services/Twitter)

Mid-island communities are the most dominant call areas for air ambulance transports this year. (BC Emergency Health Services/Twitter)

Air ambulance calls on Vancouver Island way down so far in 2020

Only 519 transports from Vancouver Island so far, compared to 1,107 total calls in 2019

A year after a sizable jump in traffic, the number of Air Ambulance calls seems to have returned to normal on Vancouver Island in 2020.

So far, the number of calls from the Island is down this year, with only 519 calls being made during the first eight months of 2020, far behind the pace that resulted in 1,107 calls in 2019.

Based on data provided by BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) 86 of the calls made in 2020 were for medical emergency and 433 were for medical transfer to hospitals.

In 2019, there were 174 medical emergency calls recorded and 933 medical transfers. That number was higher than the trend observed in 2018 ( 643 calls) and 2017 (608 calls).

RELATED: B.C. air ambulance flying Nanaimo to Victoria targeted by laser: Transport Canada

RELATED: Santa’s helicopter hospital hop brightens day for sick children

“Our busiest times for air ambulance response is at the end of the summer and the bulk of the calls come nearer to the year’s close than the first half of the year. So by the end of this year we could easily see much higher numbers,” said BCEHS spokesperson Shannon Miller.

Troy Clifford, provincial president of the union that represents Ambulance Paramedics and Emergency Dispatchers, said that ambulance dispatchers have observed a decrease in calls this year, possibly because people are staying home.

B.C. paramedics reported in March that 75 per cent of calls to 911 ambulance dispatch were related to suspicions of COVID-19 or other influenza-type symptom.

“With a large chunk of our population in self-isolation at home, ambulance dispatchers say they are receiving fewer calls about car accidents, falls, assaults, and workplace accidents,” said Clifford.

Also, with surgeries being cancelled, there were less calls for transporting patients to hospital, said Clifford.

Nanaimo, Port Alberni and Courtenay, as well as isolated communities, including the Gulf Islands are the most dominant call areas for air ambulances on Vancouver Island.

The Island accounted for 14 per cent of air ambulance transports in B.C in 2019/20, which was also the second lowest in the province.

In B.C., for fiscal year 2019/20, 39 per cent of air ambulance transports were done for Northern Health, followed by 26 percent for Interior Health, 18 per cent for Vancouver-Coastal and two per cent for Fraser Health.

Annually, BCEHS responds to more than 7,000 patients requiring transportation by air ambulance.

Most of the medical response calls are for traumatic injuries, traffic incidents, falls and medical emergencies requiring immediately air ambulance response, said Miller.

About 90 per cent of air ambulance responses are for hospital transfer patients in critical condition.

BCEHS air ambulance program has a fleet of four air ambulance helicopters and six airplanes. It can also avail the services of 30 pre-qualified air carriers province-wide, if needed.

Critical Care Paramedics (the highest level of paramedic care, with a focus on air medical response) are deployed from aircraft bases in Prince George, Kelowna, Kamloops, Nanaimo and Vancouver.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Healthvancouverisland

Just Posted

The Nanaimo Timbermen and Victoria Shamrocks compete in Western Lacrosse Association action in Nanaimo during the 2019 season. (News Bulletin file photo)
WLA cancels another senior A lacrosse season due to COVID-19

Western Lacrosse Association, Major Series Lacrosse announce cancellation of Mann Cup

Nanaimo City Hall. (News Bulletin file photo)
City of Nanaimo adopts this year’s tax rates, sends out property tax bills

City says tax increase will amount to $68 for a typical household

Nanaimo RCMP asked the public for help finding a 60-year-old who had been missing since May 9. He has since been found. (Photo submitted)
UPDATE: Nanaimo man located after he had been missing more than a week

Police had expressed concern, noting 60-year-old requires daily medication

A turn-control median at the intersection of Opal and Rock City Roads. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo council sticks with Opal Road decision despite residents’ call for reconsideration

Opal Road delegation claims ‘breakdown in the democratic process’

North Cedar Volunteer Fire Department crews at the scene of a single-vehicle crash on Barnes Road near Holden Corso Road in Cedar. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Jeep rolls over on wet afternoon in Nanaimo, occupants OK

Incident happened Monday on Barnes Road in Cedar

North Cedar Volunteer Fire Department crews at the scene of a single-vehicle crash on Barnes Road near Holden Corso Road in Cedar. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Jeep rolls over on wet afternoon in Nanaimo, occupants OK

Incident happened Monday on Barnes Road in Cedar

The new wing at the Victoria International Airport opened up on Thursday (File contributed/YYJ)
Pandemic takes ‘hundreds of millions’ out of Victoria Airport, Vancouver Island economy

Airport authority head says passenger volumes down as much as 98 per cent

The top photo is of a real carbine rifle, while the bottom photo is the airsoft rifle seized from a Kelowna man on May 15. (Contributed)
RCMP issue warning: ‘Imitation firearms need to be dealt with responsibly’

A man brandishing his airsoft rifle in public had his weapon seized by Mounties on Saturday

Reigning women’s World Champion Kaetlyn Osmond, who also took bronze at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, will debut two brand new programs for the 2021 Stars On Ice tour, in Victoria May 15. (File photo)
Kurt Browning, Elvis Stojko hit the ice when Stars On Ice returns to Vancouver Island

The star-studded lineup is makes a return after pandemic hiatus

Abbotsford Regional Hospital. (Black Press Media files)
Canada marks 25,000 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began

6 in every 10,000 Canadians died of COVID-19 since March 9, 2020

Staff-Sgt. Svend Nielsen, with the 100 Mile House RCMP. (Melissa Smalley - 100 Mile Free Press)
14-year-old boy killed in serious ATV crash near 100 Mile House

Youth was travelling with a group of peers when the incident occurred last Friday

Relief is coming for B.C.’s struggling tourism sector. (NEWS file photo)
B.C. officials set to announce more support for tourism sector hit hard by pandemic

Non-essential travel is restricted between three regional zones in B.C. until at least May 24

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Nathalie Emmanuel, left, and Vin Diesel in a scene from “F9.” (Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures via AP)
The blockbuster movie is making a comeback this summer

Excitement in the industry is growing again for a return to a big-screen normal

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Most Read