Mayors request provincial support for emergency medical care in B.C.

ON March 10, the mayors of 10 Metro Vancouver municipalities sent a letter to Health Minister Adrian Dix reiterating a longstanding request for the Province to expand the range of emergency medical events to which municipal emergency medical responders are called to attend.

Delta Mayor George V. Harvie said on Tuesday: “With staffing shortages impacting response times for the BC Ambulance Service, we want to work with the Province to ensure public safety and that those most vulnerable and in desperate need of our services have access to it in a timely fashion. We are currently dealing with the dual crises of COVID-19 and the opioid crisis and all we’re asking for is the opportunity to provide effective services for our communities.”

He noted that on February 19, the Ambulance Paramedics and Emergency Dispatchers of BC reported that 30 of the 120 ambulances across the Lower Mainland were unstaffed. This situation can result in significant delays in the provision of emergency medical care to patients when trained Fire Department personnel are not dispatched as well.

Last week a patient in Delta with a serious medical issue had to wait 42 minutes for an ambulance to arrive. Fortunately in this case, Delta Fire personnel were dispatched, were on scene in less than six minutes, and were able to care for the patient until the BC Ambulance Service arrived.

Harvie said that it is critical to ensure that resources, including medically-trained and/or EMR-trained firefighters, are dispatched to provide the highest available level of care for BC residents. Avoiding 42-minute delays for serious medical issues is an imperative for the community.