We’re only a week away from the 2017 BC election, and the Northern BC Helicopter Emergency Rescue Operations Society, or H.E.R.O.S., is still pushing to make pre-hospital care and transportation a priority.
Modern emergency helicopters are seen as mobile intensive care units. H.E.R.O.S. Vice President Ted Clarke says there’s a doctor practicing in BC who performed six open-heart surgeries in a helicopter while working in London. Those in need of immediate medical care, such as Car crash victims, workers in remote areas, and those in rural communities, can be treated much quicker by helicopter than by ambulance. This is why Clarke every group he’s talked to, like the First Nations Health Authority, is on board.
“There are a lot of native community in this area that are so far from hospitals and if they get hurt, or injured, or sick, they have to be brought in by ground ambulance and it’s not an efficient way of doing it.”
Despite being in a giant province full of isolated communities, Clarke says BC has only four dedicated emergency helicopters. By comparison, he notes Alaska has 31 for about one-sixth of our population.
Local Prince George BC Liberal and BC NDP candidates are also in agreeance, however, it’s the service’s costs that are the biggest fallback. Helicopters are expensive, but as Clarke points out, so is dealing with long-term medical costs associated with a lack of care.
“It’s a $5 billion price tag British Columbians pay – just in dealing with trauma loan – per year. If you can get those people to the hospital sooner, you save those long-term conditions there, also, medical insurance premiums rise when people get hurt and they can’t go back to work. So, if you look at the long-term picture, investing in pre-hospital care will save Healthcare dollars down the road and I think that needs to be addressed.”
Clarke is yet to speak about this to a Green Party representative.
To make this service a reality, H.E.R.O.S. wants the next BC government to conduct a cost-benefit needs analysis that measures how BC handles pre-hospital care.
“Then you will see the numbers add up. You’ll see that people could be saved, not only their life saved but that the costs involved in keeping those people alive with long-term injuries that maybe could have been prevented if they had gotten to the hospital sooner.”
Even if this isn’t a serious topic come May 9th, Clarke says this is something that needs to be discussed until the service is provided.