Critical Condition

John White: We need more than a bandage for this wound

It does nothing to address the lack of actual ambulances in the West Kootenay.

It was a definite first step Monday when BCEHS announced three additional paramedic resources allocated to Castlegar.

Unfortunately, it does nothing to address the lack of actual ambulances in the West Kootenay. The more significant threat to health care in the region is the delay in transfers or emergency response because of a shortage of available vehicles equipped with advanced-care paramedics.

As a reader commented on our story, “It’s going to do nothing to improve service to Castlegar and push out every part-timer who has been keeping that station staffed. Sooner or later people will realize we need more ambulances, not paramedics losing their jobs. At the end of the day, Castlegar still has two ambulances, whether it’s staffed by full time or part time it changes nothing when looking at the level of service delivered to the community.”

Having BCEHS recognize the seriousness of the situation and take steps to rectify it is a great sign, but it is just a bandage on an open wound. As we’ve established in our six-part investigative series, Critical Condition, the problem goes much beyond paramedic staffing numbers.

There is a recognized lack of support for rural British Columbians, identified in several studies and independent audits. We’ve received many personal stories that provide solid, if anecdotal, evidence of the dangers in this approach to rural care.

We’ve also established that the province could save lives and millions of dollars in health care costs by instituting a more efficient system that better provides pre-hospital care to all of B.C.’s residents regardless of postal code.

A vice-president from STARS — the successful and critically lauded air ambulance program — said his organization would be very willing to sit down with BCEHS and the province to talk about potential solutions to service those gaps identified by non-partisan experts. When you also consider that many primary health facilities in the province will come due for replacement at approximately the same time, we’ll need to find multiple solutions involving innovative technology, training and HR ingenuity to provide the necessary level of care without bankrupting the province.

What is clear after three months of investigation and reporting is this: People need to keep the pressure on those with the ability to research, approve and deliver meaningful solutions to our region. They need to call, email and message representatives at BCEHS, your MLA and provincial media outlets to push for real movement.

They’ve heard us and have responded. Now those in power need to hear from you. A united front of key representatives from the Kootenays working together with a sitting minister (MLA Katrine Conroy) could make a lot of noise and fast.

There have been recommendations put forward and an “Action Plan” in place for several years.

An Action Plan with little action is not much of a plan, and it could be devastating for many families.

We’ve leveraged interviews with many industry experts to lay the groundwork for change. Now, someone needs to step up and follow through.

Just Posted

Reports of rashes prompt pool closures at Harrison Hot Springs

Public pool available after all five mineral pools closed until further notice

Oil pipeline company offers cash to expand under two Chilliwack school yards

District offered $136,500 to widen from 18 to 42 metres through Vedder middle and Watson elementary

Chilliwack’s Chief Ernie Crey a firm pipeline supporter

Crey lauds NEB focus on marine safety in his role representing Indigenous oversight committee

Sarah Wark’s run just about done at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

With an overall record of 5-5, Wark’s Team B.C. won’t be qualifying for Saturday’s playoff round.

Chilliwack’s aquifer again in the spotlight with NEB pipeline approval

Concerns from WaterWealth Project and Coun. Jason Lum, but mayor says it’s time to ‘move forward’

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Man sentenced to 7 years for smuggling drugs and shooting at border guards in Sumas

Nathan Hall was arrested in Abbotsford in 2013 after day-long manhunt

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

Most Read