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

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson kneels as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
UPDATED: Vancouver Island paddle boarder’s orca encounter brings joy and outrage

Woman’s ‘best day’ criticized for disturbing the whales

Tofino’s library is currently located in the basement of the Tofino Legion building but talks are underway to build a brand new facility. (Andrew Bailey photo)
The District of Tofino has put new restrictions in place around alcohol at public events. (Westerly file photo)
Tofino puts new restrictions on alcohol at public events

Town’s council adopts Municipal Alcohol Policy.

Gord John stands during question period in Ottawa in Sept. 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY CHRISTIAN DIOTTE, HOUSE OF COMMONS PHOTO SERVICES)
2020: A Year in Review with Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns

NDP MP wants to ‘build back better’ in 2021

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

The cost of potentially counting deer regionwide was among the issues that prompted Capital Regional District committee members to vote against pursuing a greater CRD role in deer management. (Black Press Media file photo)
Expanded deer management a non-starter for Greater Victoria

Capital Regional District committee maintains current level of support

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Aquaculture employee from Vancouver Island, Michelle, poses with a comment that she received on social media. Facebook group Women in Canadian Salmon Farming started an online campaign #enoughisenough to highlight the harassment they were facing online after debates about Discovery Islands fish farms intensified on social media. (Submitted photo)
Female aquaculture employees report online bullying, say divisive debate has turned sexist

Vancouver Island’s female aquaculture employees start #enoughisenough to address misogynistic comments aimed at them

Mowi Canada West’s Sheep Pass salmon farm, the company’s final B.C. operation to receive certification from the Aquaculture Steward Council. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is questioning a government decision to phase out salmon farms in the Discovery Islands. (Photo supplied by Mowi Canada West)
Canadian Federation of Agriculture backs B.C. salmon farmers

Letter to prime minister calls for federal “champion” for aquaculture growth

Most Read