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

Just Posted

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of a Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu on May 8. (Black Press Media file photo)
Indigenous woman shot by police was holding a replica gun, says Ucluelet First Nation

Woman has been identified as a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation

Amphitrite Point lighthouse on Ucluelet’s Wild Pacific Trail during a massive winter storm. (Westerly file photo)
Ucluelet’s Official Community Plan public hearing goes ahead despite push back

A petition calling on Ucluelet council to postpone the May 13 virtual event fails to deter

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. Indigenous leaders are calling for an investigation into the conduct of Mounties on Vancouver Island after two police shootings of members of a small First Nations community in three months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Indigenous leaders call for clarity, investigation into RCMP after B.C. shooting

The RCMP declined to comment on the requests by Indigenous leaders

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chief says community “devastated” by third police shooting

Woman shot by Ucluelet RCMP in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu on May 8.

Tofino is adding to its planning department to keep up with rising interest in residential development in town. (Westerly file photo)
Interest in residential development rising in Tofino

District of Tofino boosting planning department.

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

A nurse asks screening questions at an immunization appointment in Nanaimo earlier this year. (Shawn Wagar/Island Health photo)
Island Health appreciates nurses answering the call in challenging times

Health authority draws attention to National Nursing Week

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)
Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

These are just a handful of Vancouver Island’s missing person cases. Clockwise from top left: Lisa Marie Young, Lindsey Nicholls, Micheal Dunahee, Jesokah Adkens, Belinda Cameron and Emma Fillipoff. (File photos courtesy of family members and police departments)
Could Victoria skull fragment bring closure to an Island missing persons mystery?

Skeletal remains found in Greater Victoria have not yet been identified

Premier Mike Horgan received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Facebook/John Horgan)
More than 50% of people eligible in B.C. have received 1st vaccine dose

‘We’ve made extraordinary progress together over the past few weeks,’ says Premier Horgan

Most Read