Letters: Clarifying the health care system

A response to the letter written by the provincial fire fighters

A recent editorial by the provincial fire fighters union president makes several claims about the provincial pre-hospital health care system that require clarification so readers can have a balanced perspective.

Sooke News Mirror, July 23, 2014, page 8, “What do you expect when you call 9-1-1?

To ensure that both ambulance and first responder (fire department) resources are dispatched appropriately, and the public isn’t at risk from emergency vehicles driving at high speeds unnecessarily, BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) undertook its fifth review of its Resource Allocation Plan (RAP) in 2013. The RAP outlines which resource(s) to assign to each medical call received and how they should respond – lights and siren or routine.

Our evidence-based review found that there is no clinical benefit for patients to have first responders dispatched for several of the call types that they currently attend. A formal consensus among EMS physicians is that only patients in cardiac or respiratory arrest, or those having total airway obstruction, benefit from a rapid ambulance response. An ambulance is still sent to every call in B.C., however, they are responding without lights and siren more often.

Ambulance dispatchers assess the patient’s condition over the phone and prioritize every call for service – people with life-threatening conditions get the fastest response with the highest trained paramedics available. When appropriate, dispatchers notify first responders that there is a patient that would benefit from having fire fighters provide first aid as soon as possible. This notification occurs in seconds, not minutes as stated. First responders remain able to upgrade the call if they have concerns about the ambulance response.

With these changes, ambulances are getting to critically ill or injured patients faster and those with non-life threatening conditions have been waiting only a few minutes more on average. An EMS expert reviewed the process used to update the RAP and found that the methodology was consistent with contemporary best practices nationally and internationally, used robust clinical evidence, and is superior to the processes used in many major EMS systems.

BCEHS continues to monitor the RAP changes – which have only been implemented for ambulances so far, not first responders – on a system-wide basis and review individual calls when the response was questioned. To date there have been no negative clinical patient outcomes attributed to the RAP changes.

BCEHS greatly values the role of first responders and will continue to work on strengthening this partnership using medical evidence and facts to enhance care and service for patients.

 

William Dick, MD, MSc, FRCPC

Vice President, Medical Programs

BCEHS

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rock painting gains popularity on Vancouver Island

Facebook groups formed for people to share ideas, gift painted rocks

VIDEO: View Royal resident spots cougar in nearby backyard

B.C. Conservation notified about early Thursday morning sighting

Greater Victoria tourism industry ‘can’t wait any longer’ for financial aid

Saanich mayor, business owners call on provincial, federal governments for tourism-specific aid

COVID-19 demolishes new construction in Greater Victoria

Value of new building permits in Greater Victoria drop more than 37 per cent

Group desperate to find solution to wrecks lining shores of Cadboro Bay

Caddy Bay ‘a wild west’ without authority, say locals

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Man found dead in his tent at Island homeless camp

Facebook posts tell of personal struggles and attempts to stay clean and sober

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Federal aid for care home systems needed ahead of second wave, advocates say

Ontario Long Term Care Association calling for more action

B.C. woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Horgan calls for national anti-racism program; will pitch idea to PM, premiers

Premier John Horgan said he’s horrified by the death of George Floyd in the United States

Chilliwack dad rescues two young daughters after truck plunges into lake

“I used every single one of my angels that day,” said Dennis Saulnier

Most Read