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

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

Just Posted

West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni received some good news about an expansion to its emergency department on Jan. 15, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
B.C. health ministry commits $6.25M to hospital expansion in Port Alberni

Plans for larger emergency department have been on hold since 2015

A Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation guardian took this photo of dozens of vehicles parked along a forest service road in the Kennedy watershed. (Submitted photo)
Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District looks at enforcement of illegal camping

ACRD currently does not have an existing bylaw service to tackle the issue

Ucluelet local Geoff Johnson snapped this photo of a Risso’s dolphin that washed up near Chesterman Beach in Tofino on Wednesday, Jan. 13. (Geoff Johnson photo)
Washed up Risso’s dolphin offers glimpse into “whole other world” near Tofino

“It’s like a UFO crash landed and you can come look at it.”

(B.C. government)
POLL QUESTION: Would you report a neighbour in breach of COVID-19 regulations?

Would you report a neighbour in breach of COVID-19 regulations? READ MORE:… Continue reading

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Most Read