The Northern BC Helicopter Emergency Rescue Operations Society – or H.E.R.O.S. – supports BC Forest Safety Council’s ombudsman Roger Harris’s recent report calling for better pre-hospital care from the Province.
Harris spent two years overlooking the state of the province’s helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) to create his report, Will It Be There – A Report on Helicopter Emergency Medical Services in BC. He believes it’s no longer acceptable that living or working remotely should also mean sacrificing emergency medical care.
He’s making three recommendations for the provincial government. The first is ensuring all British Columbians are within a one-hour flight of a trauma centre, which could mean creating 10 new provincially-funded emergency helicopter bases.
Currently, BC has four dedicated emergency helicopters: One in Kamloops, one in Prince Rupert, and two in Vancouver. Some eastern communities are serviced by Alberta’s STARS Air Ambulance service but many areas of the province are unprotected. By comparison, Alaska has 31 emergencies helicopters for 736,000 people. BC’s four helicopters are for 4.631 million people.
H.E.R.O.S. Vice President Ted Clarke says it’s time those living and working in remote areas had guaranteed security.
“We have people dying on our highways because they bleed to death and that should never happen. If you can get them out of that vehicle in time and get them in a helicopter that’s carrying blood and oxygen and has advanced paramedics on board, or doctors, you’re going to save that person a lot sooner than hauling them away in a ground ambulance.”
The other two recommendations are centred around giving First Responders more flexibility while accident victims are being transported to medical facilities. The third includes new hoisting methods so victims could be lifted directly to the helicopter and transported to hospital. Often times victims are lifted, carried to and put in a road ambulance, and transported to hospital that way.