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October 27, 2017 7:03 pm

Rural Workers and Residents Need Helicopter Emergency Medical Transportation Says Report

Friday, February 3, 2017 @ 2:28 PM

Prince George, B.C.- A new report  details the serious gaps   when it comes to rural workers  or residents  getting  timely  access to medical treatment.The report,   from BC Forest Safety Ombudsman, Roger Harris,  details  what many northerners already know,   anyone injured in the north, “must wait – often for many hours – to access air ambulance”.   The report is entitled “Will it Be There?”

( to access full report,  click on image at right)

“Rural communities today are impacted twice compared to urban centres – first, in reduced access to medical care and again in reduced access to emergency medical transportation,” said BC Forest Safety Ombudsman Roger Harris. “For remote communities, as the distance to the nearest medical facility increases, the access to HEMS should be enhanced, not reduced.”

The  report notes  the lack of  helicopter emergency medical service in  rural parts of the province ” threatens the medical outcomes of forestry workers – as well as residents – who have little to no guarantee to timely medical response in the event of an emergency.”

The report makes a number  of recommendations:

  • that the provincial government: guarantee timelines for all residents to be able to access Trauma 3 Level care, similar to other jurisdictions;
  • review the Emergency Health Services Act to allow for flexibility when it comes to expanding the scope of practice and role of First Responders in the transportation of accident victims; and
  • expand the use of hoisting to reduce time to extract and transfer patients to medical facilities.

“There are no technical or infrastructure barriers to the delivery of air ambulance within that critical first hour to any resident of BC, regardless of where they live.  The decision by government not to provide that access is a choice,” asserts Harris.  “These recommendations support faster care for workers and all residents regardless of where you live in the province.  Faster care results in better medical outcomes for the patient – which in turn, results in lower cost to the health care system.”


We are well overdue for a dedicated air ambulance for the region we are the only major centre in BC without helicopter ambulance service and we have proven time and again that the region would benefit from an air ambulance helicopter.

    Dearth, so true.
    “we have proven time and again”, that people are dead due to delays in reaching critical care.
    I’ve been blowing this horn for a couple years now, good to see I’m not alone in my complaints.
    When you say dedicated, it means a “Helicopter Ambulance” dedicated to service, here in PG, one in Pr. Rupert, another in Ft. St. John.
    Although it is a huge expenditure, I’m sure Coastal Health can boot a few bureaucrats to even things out, you know, send the savings to the Interior and North.
    Now, If would like to hear our MLA’s response.

    I also agree, and good on 250News for posting this news story! I have had an epiphany; why not use the helicopters used in the wolf cull program, retro-fit them of use as air ambulances, end the wolf cull program and use that money to save peoples lives, instead of killing wolves? Win-win!!! But then again, there needs to be the “political will” to make this happen!

      The choppers used for the wolf kill are contracted, not govt owned. Please continue with the wolf kill. There are too many.

      What would be the costs of contracting those helicopters compared to the purchase of one or two? I am sure the wolf cull program cost at least a few million dollars. A brand new helicopter comes in around $2.5 million.

      ht tp://helicopters.axlegeeks.com/l/20/Bell-407

      No evidence culling wolves saves caribou, in fact one study pointed to cougars taking more caribou than wolves.

      Helicopters used in the wolf cull are smaller and more maneuverable than the larger helicopter needed as an air ambulance. Larger size needed for patient support.

      BH I take it you are not old enough to remember when the government had its own air service and why it was disbanded. Heck even hydro had its own aircraft.

      Do you have even an inkling of helicopter costs, purchasing and operating. Much cheaper for the government to hire when needed.

Paramedics aren’t even considered an essential service so how can you guarantee service levels….

With all the funding announcements in the last couple of weeks, it’s disturbing that this doesn’t even appear to be on the wishlist. 1.5 million for puppies, zilch for injured workers.

I think what we need to do is not allow MLA’s to fly to Victoria. Force them to drive. Then they’ll notice how poorly maintained the roads are – many places the center line is wore off, shoulders are broken pavement. Then, as they ponder these hazards, they can consider that if they get in a crash, it may be hours before they get help.

But I guess maintaining basic infrastructure and providing basic emergency services isn’t sexy enough. It’s ironic the wealth of the province comes from the area where – if you must die, be quick about it then, and reduce the surplus “Northern” population. (Charles Dickens)

If the subject is not mentioned by the BC Liberals during the lead up to their re-election, then I think it is safe to say it is not on their radar.

This lack of service smacks of discrimination.

Morris says studies are needed. In other words pay bearucrates to study and study more. Why the studies, these helicopter operations are already in use in other parts of the province, what’s to study just get on with it.

A comment from CBC story. They choose to live and work in the North, they have to understand they won’t have the same service we do in the city. This pious attitude appears to be reflected in Northern Health just by doing absolutely nothing about lobbying Victoria for helicopters here, at least, I have heard nothing from them saying they are.
Then there’s the attitude of our very own Ambulance Service:
“Harris said he found many people in charge of B.C. Ambulance and B.C. Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) view long response times as a cost of living in remote parts of the province.

“It is not surprising that rural services lag those in the urban centers when those responsible for providing a provincial service have already conceded this point,” he wrote.

BCEHS executive vice president Linda Lupini said that attitude does not reflect the views of her organization.

“No matter the location, air ambulances and paramedics are dispatched according to the care needs of each patient, and the level of urgency required,” she said in a statement.

So Mike, Shirley, can we please hear from you on this issue.

Whatever happened to the HEROS?


Interesting in other remote second world countries the industry in those areas subs the cost of health care to ensure their employees are card for in the event of injury or sickness, seems they recognize the benefit to their operations and productivity.

Long overdue. How is it that southern BC has dedicated service below 100mile. Are our lives less important?

Every winter we have a rash of highway deaths that could be reduced with dedicated service.

This should be a top campaign issue.

250 please keep this one alive as the election nears.

Quote from the story:”There are no technical or infrastructure barriers to the delivery of air ambulance within that critical first hour to any resident of BC, regardless of where they live.”

This narrows it down to a guaranteed time of one hour maximum for the air ambulance to arrive after having been requested to attend. That is not an unreasonable time limit in my opinion. A helicopter can travel a very long distance in one hour!

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