BC Ambulance Services reassures people that the service is well staffed and ready to respond. Photo by Don Bodger

BC Ambulance Services reassures people that the service is well staffed and ready to respond. Photo by Don Bodger

BC Ambulance assures the Island community they’re ‘fully staffed’

‘Paramedics are not limited to a geographical area.’ — BCEHS

When people call 911, they expect that whatever lifesaving services are required arrive quickly and efficiently.

However that capacity for service can be diminished on the busiest of days, as the Campbell River fire department saw last week.

In B.C., emergency services like ambulance and fire are run by organizations with different jurisdictions and scope. Fire departments are primarily run at the local level, where BC Ambulance is run through the provincial BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS). These organizations all work together, but with differing levels of involvement.

For example, on Nov. 29, Campbell River fire chief Thomas Doherty told the Mirror that “We were on the one medical call, which was a cardiac arrest, then we had a second medical call that we had to send another crew to because ambulance was delayed responding from Cumberland.”

RELATED: Campbell River fire crews kept busy on Saturday

However, BCEHS says that there is no issue with the levels of service, and that the local stations are fully staffed and ready to respond. The fleet was actually increased on Nov. 1 with a new ambulance.

The station in Campbell River has 43 staff members, and unlike fire departments, it is not bound to a geographical area. The region consisting of Campbell River, Courtenay-Cumberland and Comox has nine ambulances, four of which are based out of the Campbell River station.

“BC Emergency Health Services is a provincial service allowing us to share resources across regions. If paramedics are available in Cumberland for a medical call, they may be called to Campbell River to cross-cover. When paramedic crews are not available, or out of their service area, BCEHS implements a system called ‘cross-covering’ whereby other crews in the region cover for that area,” explained BCEHS communications officer Shannon Miller in an emailed statement. “We place our resources where they are needed most. In remote and rural areas of B.C., paramedics travel great distances to respond to our patients and transport them to hospital.”

Campbell River Fire is not notified of every medical call that comes in. BCEHS calls are classified by their severity using a colour-coded system. Under this clinical response model, fire first responders are notified to provide basic life saving interventions until paramedics arrive for the three most serious kinds of calls, ranging from immediately life threatening calls like cardiac arrest to urgent/potentially serious, but not immediately life threatening calls like abdominal pain. This was implemented in 2018.

That was adjusted in April to ensure the safety of firefighters in the COVID-19 pandemic, but those restrictions were reduced in September because in rural communities it can take longer for paramedics to reach patients.

On average there have been 625 medical emergency calls per month in 2020, and around 6,900 so far in the year.

In 2019, Campbell River Fire was only notified of about 35 per cent of the total call volume. In November 2020, that number was at 29 per cent, according to BCEHS.

Miller said “paramedics are ready and able to respond to those needing medical emergency care.”

“As of Nov. 1 we had an additional ambulance operating out of Station 108, fully staffed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week,” her statement read. “There is also an additional ambulance operating in Courtenay to help in the region.”

RELATED: Woman spits in business operator’s face, claims she has COVID-19, in downtown Campbell River confrontation

More B.C. ambulance service needed in the North: Hospital chief of staff



marc.kitteringham@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Campbell RiverEmergency callsLocal News

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, updates British Columbians about COVID-19 at a press conference earlier this week. (B.C. Government image)
B.C.’s 1st case of COVID-19 confirmed a year ago today

Here’s a look at some of the key dates in the province’s fight against the novel coronavirus

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Nanaimo hospital appears to be contained, says Island Health

Chief medical health officer urges patients to meet scheduled appointments

Beef to the person in the little car who tailgates me with high beams along Kilpatrick and Jingle Pot in the morning and lays on the horn when I turn left onto East Wellington. If following the speed limit is not going to get you where you are going on time please do not take it out on me. May I suggest you leave a bit sooner.
Beefs & Bouquets, Jan. 27

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

(News Bulletin file)
COVID-19 affects student enrolment and funding for Nanaimo school district

More distance-ed students leads to yet-to-be divvied out money, says SD68 secretary-treasurer

An Island Health graph showing COVID-19 cases in the central Island by local health area between Dec. 27 and Jan. 23. (Island Health image)
Central Island’s COVID-19 case spike shifting, says Island Health

Cowichan Valley has seen the highest number of cases, but Nanaimo and south Island seeing upticks

A lone passenger stands outside the International Arrivals area at Pearson Airport in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. As the federal government prepares to slap new restrictions on foreign arrivals, Health Canada data suggest a growing number of infections directly connected to international travel. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Holiday season vacations coincide with rise in COVID-19 travel-related cases

Between Nov. 30 and Dec. 27, 86,953 people flew into Canada from the United States

Gov.Gen Julie Payette walks in the chamber after greeting Senators before delivering the Speech from the Throne, at the Senate of Canada Building in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Report details yelling, screaming and aggressive conduct at Rideau Hall under Payette

Report says employees did not feel they had a place to go with their complaints

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker have been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
B.C. couple accused of flying to Yukon to get COVID-19 vaccine to appear in court

If convicted, the pair could serve up to six months in jail

Grad student Marisa Harrington and her supervisor Lynneth Stuart-Hill say preliminary results from a study into the affects of stress on hospital nurses show an impact on sleep and heart variability. (Courtesy of Marisa Harrington)
University of Victoria study shows stress impact on B.C. nurses

Stress may be impacting sleep, heart health of hospital nurses in Victoria region

Flowers poke through the snow in Courtenay as the area got a taste of winter weather this week. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Vancouver Island not out of the winter woods quite yet: meteorologist

“It’s winter; we’ve got to get through it together.”

Sooke’s Amy McLaughlin holds Theodore, a bunny who will be going to a new owner in Nanaimo within the coming days if all goes will at an upcoming bunny play-date. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Vancouver Island woman looking to hop into bigger space for bunny rescue operation

Amy McLaughlin has rescued more than 400 bunnies, pushing for the capacity to help more

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

This coming Thursday, Jan. 28, is Bell Let’s Talk Day, and conversations about mental health would serve many of us well as the pandemic persists. (Zackary Drucker/The Gender Spectrum Collection)
Editorial: Let’s talk about our mental health in a pandemic

Bell Let’s Talk Day is Thursday, Jan. 28

Most Read