H.E.R.O.S. Backs Call for Medical Emergency Transportation
Prince George, B.C.- The Helicopter Emergency Rescue Operations Society (H.E.R.O.S.) is backing the call for medical helicopter service in Northern B.C.
Last week, BC Forest Safety Council Ombudsman, Roger Harris, released a report that called for the service to ensure those who live and work in the north, have the same access to health care as those in the lower mainland.
H.E.R.O.S. has been pushing for this kind of service for several years, saying medical outcomes would be improved, and lives could be saved if an emergency medical helicopter transportation service was in operation in the North.
“We will no longer accept the argument that because we choose to live, work and play in rural and remote areas we should have to bear greater risks in the event of an accident or serous medical incident” states H.E.R.O.S President Brent Marshall in a release. The Society has been advocating for the use of rapid-response air ambulance helicopters which can reach every person in the province, no matter where they are, and deliver them directly to a hospital.
The Society points out that delays in patient transportation can lead to “increased morbidity of injuries, resulting in longer recovery times for patients and loss of productivity in the workforce.”
In his report, Harris recommended the province “consider mandating – through legislation or policy – guaranteed timelines for the public to be able to access Trauma 3 level care, similar to other jurisdictions.”
The Chair of the Board for Northern Health, Dr. Charles Jago, admits, patient transportation is a major concern “The transportation of patients to higher levels of care is a huge big issue for Northern Health. It’s not just fixed wing aircraft, not just helicopters, it’s a whole range of things. But it’s not part of our mandate, it lies with emergency Health Services B.C. through the Public Health Services Authority. We’ve been working with them intensively, we’ve identified systemic issues, we’ve been asking them to address them , we’ve improved the situation somewhat through our addressing it with them, but it is a major issue.”
Dr. Jago agrees with the report that the longer a person has to wait for treatment, the worse the outcome, “All I can say is it is a huge issue for Northern communities and every time we do a consultation with communities it comes forward as a major issue and we’ve been working hard to address it, to understand it, to do a statistical analysis to understand it. We are working on it, for sure ”
Thanks for staying on this important issue News250.
If Brent Marshall is involved I question it from start to finish.
Elaine, I can’t thank you enough for doing this, I’m super impressed.
Now, if we can only get our MLA’s commitment to making this a reality, and B.C. Ambulance.
For doing what? Posting news on a news site?
Interesting what they are doing out in Nova Scotia:
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia says its LifeFlight air ambulance service will resume hospital helipad landings by Aug. 1.
Health Minister Leo Glavine says the province has signed a $105-million deal with Canadian Helicopters Ltd. for two higher-performance Sikorsky S-76 C+ helicopters that will reduce transport times by 10 to 25 minutes.
“It really gets that patient to the critical care they need faster, or it gets the teams to the patient faster,” Emergency Health Services director Larry Crewson said Thursday.
“For critical care patients, and that’s who’s moved by a helicopter, that can make all the difference in the world. You’re talking at least a 15-minute time savings on every mission.”
Nova Sctotia – 55,000 square kilometres. BC, 945,000 square kilometres.
What’s your point? The distance one single chopper can cover is pretty huge. Imagine if there were 2 or 3 in the north.
Of course that would interfere with funding for the bridge that will replace the Massey tunnel. Families first Christy Clark has her priorities up…………
About those Nova Scotia Helicopters. They will be ADDING two refurbished Sikorsky 76 C+ helicopters built in 2005 (they stopped building that series that year) to the existing helicopter built in 1980. Those types have not been allowed to land at hospitals due to Transport Canada regulations.
They will be able to answer 98% of calls rather than the current 80%. They respond to about 400 calls a year.
Given that, based on population, BC should have 5 helicopters ready for take-off since we have 5 times the population as well as another 5 as stand by.
We have 17 times the area, so we really should factor that into the mix. Perhaps 10 + extras to cover those out of commission.
The Coast Guard should be covering Prince Rupert and the north coast. BC ambulance could move to Terrace. One in PG, one in F.S.John. That makes a minimum of 3 in the northern half of the province. The other 7 into the southern interior, Kootenays, lower mainland and a couple on the Island.
The locations would be based on the range of the copters, the load capacity and the ability to fly in inclement weather.
The main criteria should be the response time as suggested by Harris. I suspect the figures I have above will improve the response time considerably but may still fall short.
Remember, these machine have to fly to the incident location, hover to long line or winch a patient into the copter and return to base.
If the PG hospital can get their act in shape so that a copter can land above the emergency entrance with an elevator down to the main level, then there would not be a double handling of the patient and save time as well as the potential dangers inherent in too much movement depending on the injury and stabilization which was possible to do in transit.
I am very familiar with this issue. I was in Victoria when Harris made the media release. The report was a long time coming, but it is now out.
Elaine picked up the real, long time issue when she interviewed Jago and wrote this:
“The transportation of patients to higher levels of care is a huge big issue for Northern Health. It’s not just fixed wing aircraft, not just helicopters, it’s a whole range of things.”
“But it’s not part of our mandate, it lies with emergency Health Services B.C. through the Public Health Services Authority. We’ve been working with them intensively, we’ve identified systemic issues, we’ve been asking them to address them, we’ve improved the situation somewhat through our addressing it with them, but it is a major issue.”
Read that a couple of times very carefully. It tells you that the problem lies with BC Ambulance from Northern Health’s point of view. From there it may lie with the Province.
BUT, in my view, Northern Health also has been incapable of making anyone budge for decades. The whole system should have been fixed some time ago. The system needs to be integrated.
Helicopters can help. However, this is not Arizona where weather conditions are perfect for flying helicopters most of the time. This is BC with frequent weather conditions which will not allow helicopters to fly safely. That does not mean that work in the woods will stop when that is the case. It should. It could. But that would be very costly and unacceptable.
As Jago said, “there are systemic issues” …. “it is a whole range of things.”
Treat this issue like the guy with the 3 thimbles and a pea. Watch him carefully how he gets you to take your eyes off what is really happening.
While helicopters help, and they can be contracted just as fixed wing transportation is, there are much deeper problems.
BC Ambulance has 4 helicopters. One is stationed in each of Kamloops and Prince Rupert and two are in Vancouver.
Here is a picture of the two at YVR.
Look at the picture and notice the North Shore Mountains in the background with clouds below the top of them. If a hiker or worker was injured and they would have to be extracted, unless there happened to be a clear patch or two, a helicopter would be of no use.
BTW, if an injured person were to be located say 250 metres higher than an adjacent road access reachable by an ambulance, and the gradient was say 20+ degrees through bush, the paramedics would be unable to move the patient down to the ambulance. Search and Rescue crews would be better trained to do that task.
That is not an unusual situation for those working in the forests.
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