1.5 million BC residents do not have timely viable access to prehospital critical care
0 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!
The above photo shows a medical air rescue helicopter landing in the middle of a small German community - just like they do in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba. Their chosen EMS system brings multi-specialty, emergency medicine doctors and paramedics to all urgent and critical care needs patients. This type of EMS response has been 'typical' nation-wide by both helicopter or special fast ground car, for almost 50 years there. Residents of many European countries can expect this level of critical care when they call 9-1-1, regardless of where they live, work or play, but not in BC. This even includes response in major city downtown cores, as well as their most remote and rural areas. BC HEROS feels it is long over due that BC residents get a similar level of critical care for all British Columbians, regardless of where they live, work, or play.
To ease reader understanding of the more complex issues we discuss below, we have chosen to use as many 'internationally used terms and titles' as possible, this will help minimize reader confusion when comparing the BC EMS system with other international EMS systems and their terms.
The following highlights the many shortcomings and inherent dysfunctions of BC's chosen Emergency Medical Services or 'prehospital care' model. The following also describes the much higher EMS service levels that other modern EMS systems in other provinces and countries, provide their residents and have for many decades. You will be shocked by what you are about to read.
The purpose of the BC HEROS petition is to demand the following of the BC government:
1. Make immediate changes to the highly restrictive Emergency Health Services Act, so that ALL appropriately licensed and trained medical professional (doctors, nurses) and all first responders, will once again be legally allowed to provide full-spectrum medical care (beyond just first aid) to all persons in medical distress province-wide.
2. To immediately rescind the existing restrictions which make it illegal for other than BC ambulance employees first responders (including doctors and nurses), to move / transport urgent or critical care needs patients to / into a hospital.
3. To carry out an independent Universal Cost Benefit Analysis to determine the true cost to BC's society of our chosen low-functioning, low medical ability, EMS model and to determine if enough money is being spent on province-wide prehospital/EMS critical care.
4. To create a Royal Commission composed of experienced international EMS experts to review all aspects of how the BC government chooses to deliver prehospital critical care in all communities and regions.
5. To replace BC's current 'Emergency Medical Assistants Licensing Board' with an independent 'College of Paramedics' as the sole emergency medical assistants licensing body.
6. To overhaul the medical 911 dispatch system and hire seasoned ALS paramedics as dispatchers who are better able to triage critical and urgent care needs patients.
7. To finally move BC from a perceived 'lowest-cost-per-patient-transported' EMS model, to a 'best-possible-patient-outcome' EMS model.
Note: This petition is in no way meant to criticize the heroic efforts of BC's rank and file paramedics who are doing the best they can given the limited resources they have to work with in what is one of the most stressful jobs imaginable.
When unacceptably long ambulance response times, and in many cases, inherently-long-return-to-hospital-times are combined with the low medical abilities of BCEHS’ mostly Basic Life Support attendants, which make up the vast majority of BCEHS's work force, patient outcomes, in far too many instances, are less than ideal. In fact, there is no doubt that many very serious condition patients are dying from otherwise treatable conditions in BC, conditions that have not caused death in other more capable jurisdictions in decades. Such negative patient outcomes are due to known lack of service provision aspects of BC's chosen EMS provision model; they are not compatible with known modern EMS best practices which have been in use in other EMS jurisdictions for many decades. These and other known systemic shortcomings of the BCEHS / BC's chosen EMS model, cost our health care system billions.
Many countries world-wide, as well as other Canadian provinces such as Alberta, invested in modern EMS / prehospital critical care, decades ago. Why? Not only because they knew that modern EMS models save more lives and reduce permanent injuries but because they knew it would save their societies and health care systems far more than they cost.
For example: Today, Alberta Health Service operates a total of 256 Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulances province-wide, BC on the other hand, has just 22 ALS ambulances (available for general community responses) and BC has far more land area and about 800,000 more residents. Using the Alberta ratio of ALS ambulances to residents as a baseline, BC should have almost 300 ALS ambulances, but we don't. According to BCEHS' Executive vice president, Ms Linda Lupini, (who has a background in human resources), recently stated in an interview that 'BCEHS is adequately staffed to patient need', our question to Ms Lupini is; so how is doing better, Alberta Health Services / the rest of the western world, or BCEHS?
Each day, somewhere in BC, about 300 of our loved ones are stricken with urgent or critical care needs conditions / injuries, statistically that represents about 20% all patients transported by BCEHS ambulance. This is a relatively standard percentage for all western nations when it comes to urgent or critical care need call (U.S. excepted due their high violence rates). It is medical fact that all urgent / critical care needs patients benefit from an ALS or higher, e.g. doctor, rapid (timely viable) response in terms of much better pain management, reduced risk of permanent injury and of course reduced risk of death. Furthermore, between 12,500 and 25,000 (2.5% to 5%) annually or 34 and 67 calls daily are for critical care needs patients in western countries, we are sure BC is no exception. That means that roughly 22 ALS ambulances must should be available for up to 300 calls per day province wide, with at least 34 to 67 of those calls getting the highest response priority of those calls. Perhaps Ms Lupini can explain to us how that her approach works in the real world for all the urgent or critical care needs patients which are not getting timely / viable ALS ambulance responses when their condition arises.
To add to the clear and obvious ALS care provision shortcomings of the BCEHS in urban areas, there are no ALS ambulances based in rural communities at all, this means that roughly 1.5 million rural BC residents don't have any timely / viable access to ALS or higher care. So the supporting 'data' that BCEHS cites when defending their recently introduced 'Resource Allocation Plan', appears to be deeply flawed at best, in fact, anecdotal evidence clearly indicates that the BCEHS 'Data' does not take into account the daily urgent and critical care needs patients that present in rural BC, hence, these patients are suffering longer, sustain more permanent injuries and have higher death rates from treatable conditions than those patients which present in urban areas which do have some level of access to ALS ambulances (but still access to no doctors)
As it stands today, all residents of rural BC, all 1.5 million of them, only get 'Basic Life Support' attendant / responses, (most of which are part timers), and BLS attendants are not trained or legally allowed to administer lifesaving (restricted) drugs and or carry out surgical procedures. To be clear, there is a major difference between the levels of care an ALS paramedic can provide a critical care needs patient and what level of care a BLS attendant care provide. So Ms Lupini, how do you 'square that circle' for BC 1.5 million rural residents? There is no question that far too many of our loved ones are paying a heavy price for the lack of ALS paramedics in province wide, none more so that our loved ones that live in rural BC; so are you OK with that? If not, sign our petition and tell everyone you know to sign. Only this way will we be able to force our politicians to act on our behalf.
Did you know that in BC, doctors, nurses, firefighters, or search and rescue crews are all NOT allowed to provide prehospital care, even critical care, to patients. Why is that? If a first responder or medical professional has a BC-issued EMA licence and is appropriately trained, why on earth would our politicians legally restrict them from helping our loved ones in their time of dire need - on what could be the worst day of their lives? This is an insane law, and it must be changed.
FACT: BC's has close to 4.9 million residents, yet BC only has 22 Advanced Life Support ambulances province-wide. Not one of these 22 ambulances have a doctor on board, this includes BC's four air ambulance helicopters.
Perspective: BCEHS (a.k.a. the BC Ambulance Service) responds to 503,000 calls each year, which works out to roughly 1,400 calls per day. Statistically, 280 of these calls are urgent or critical care needs patients which have life-or-limb-threatening conditions. Since one urgent/critical needs patient can easily take an ALS crew out of service for well over an hour, it means that hundreds of other urgent or critical care needs patients are only getting Basic Life Support ambulance responses. Just 14 BC communities have ALS ambulance stations, which also serve surrounding communities in close proximity. That means, of the 322 BC communities, close to 250 have no ALS paramedic coverage. here are 1.5 million BC rural residents who don't have any ALS ambulance access at all. Statistically averaged, roughly 3,000 plus deaths occur in rural BC from heart attacks, strokes and trauma alone each year. When all other time-sensitive conditions are factored in, that number could be far higher. So why don't these 3,000 rural residents seem to matter to our Health Minister?
Here's another alarming statistic: BC only has 240 ALS paramedics available for general community response province-wide, while Alberta has 2,668 ALS registered ALS paramedics. There is no question that ALS paramedics can save more lives and reduce more injuries than Basic Life Support attendants, but that doesn't mean BLS attendants don't care, they are doing the best they can with the training they have. That is exactly why BCEHS needs to train thousands more BLS attendants to ALS levels.
BCEHS ALS ambulance distribution (22 total):
Northern Health Authority region: 1 in Prince George
Interior Health Authority region: 1 in Kamloops, 1 in Kelowna
Coastal Health Authority region: 5 in Vancouver, 2 North Vancouver
Vancouver Island Health Authority region: 1 in Nanaimo, 3 in Greater Victoria,
Fraser Health Authority region: 1 in New Westminster, 1 in Surrey, 2 in Port Coquitlam, 1 in Chilliwack, 1 in Abbotsford, 1 in Richmond, 1 in Langley
Alberta Health Services ALS ambulance distribution (258 total):
South Zone: 30
Calgary Zone: 71
Central Zone: 45
Edmonton Zone: 62
Northern Zone: 50
Alberta also has five ALS/doctor-staffed, rapid-response, medical air rescue helicopters and has had that level of EMS critical care for more than 34 years. But in BC we have only ever had Basic Life Support ambulances in almost all our communities and no doctor-staffed medical air rescue helicopters. Why is that? What does BCEHS know that Alberta Health Services, or other EMS jurisdictions, do not?
FACT: The primary justification of a modern medical air rescue helicopter is to bring a multi-specialty doctor (combination emergency medicine specialist/surgeon /anesthetist) to the critical care needs patient in the shortest possible time, regardless of where they may present, urban, rural or remote locations. Well over a thousand of such medical air rescue helicopters are in service every day around the world, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the Maritimes and Ontario. There are almost 1,000 HEMS helicopters in service in the U.S. alone. Most of these helicopters are off the ground and en route to the critical or urgent care needs patient within two minutes of the 911 call.
A medical air rescue helicopter's secondary role is to provide the fastest possible means of transport to the best-suited treatment facility for the patient's condition or injury. In contrast, BCEHS's four contracted air ambulance helicopters are basically used for inter-hospital patient transfer units. They are rarely used for rural medical distress responses or accident scene calls.
Western European countries have more than 265 such medical air rescue helicopters today, all doctor-staffed. As provided by the STARS system in Western Canada, these helicopters will land directly at the critical care needs patient's location, regardless of where that might be - a car accident, ski hill, work-site, even at their home and do surgery if required to save a patient's life.
The helicopter doctor's (or ALS paramedic's) primary mission is to stabilized the critical care needs patient as soon as possible, then transport the patient, at 240 kilometres per hour, to the nearest Level 1 critical care facility such as a Children’s hospital, trauma centres, cardiac units, burn units, spinal or intensive care units. British Columbia's topography makes us the 'poster child' for the use of medical air rescue helicopters, this primarily due to our vast distances and challenging topography. FACT: BC was one of the first jurisdictions in the world to use helicopters commercially back in the late 1940s, but their use for serious medical air rescue, never really caught on here. Why is that?
To be clear, specially equipped and staffed helicopters are but one component of a modern, high-functioning EMS model. Other medically indicated innovations such as ambulance-mounted CT scanners, multi-specialty doctors on fast ground cars, universal donor whole blood to prevent death from bleeding injuries and medical staff equipped and trained to use a complete spectrum of restricted lifesaving drugs have also been utilized in other jurisdictions for many decades. but not in BC.
Currently BC has just four dedicated air ambulance helicopters; two are located in Richmond (24-hour ALS-staffed), one in Kamloops (daylight operation only, but ALS-staffed) and one in Prince Rupert (Basic Life Support staffed). That's a ratio of one dedicated air ambulance helicopter per 1.225 million residents. If you live in rural BC you live in an area which is not served by one of these helicopters and we know you are not OK with that.
Modern EMS models employ seasoned ALS paramedics as dispatchers, this so that critical and urgent care needs patients can be identified sooner and with more accuracy. Critical/urgent care needs patients are then again triaged by the attending multi-specialty EMS doctor who arrives on scene either by helicopter or special fast ground car. One of the major inherent benefits of a modern EMS model is that the patient then does not need to 're-traiged' by the receiving emergency room doctor and can be taken directly to a treatment ward where definitive treatment continues uninterrupted. That saves time and money.
Such modern 'emergency room bypass' protocols save many additional precious lifesaving/injury-reducing minutes for countless numbers of patients in other jurisdictions and for many critical care patients it means the difference between life and death. To be clear, such proven EMS 'best practices' are the sole reason these patients are alive today. So why doesn't BC have that? Are you OK with that?
In order to move BC to a true modern EMS critical care model, the first thing that needs to happen is to amend the existing and highly restrictive Emergency Health Services Act which legally restricts most of BC's first responders from providing full-spectrum EMS care, even to critical care needs patients; when a life is at stake, the colour of the uniform of the first responder which could save your loved one's life should not matter.
In BC, when a person falls victim to a life-threatening medical condition at home, work, or play, not all first responders are allowed to provide higher levels of EMS care, nor are they allowed to transport your loved one to a hospital, regardless of how grim their condition may be, regardless of how long it takes for a BCEHS ambulance to show up. The 1974 NDP government legislated an EMS service restriction which restricts all higher levels of prehospital treatment (as well as patient transport to a hospital) to just one subset of BC's almost 24,000 front-line first responders; that is still the case today. Only the 3,750 ambulance attendants who are employed by the BC Emergency Health Service are allowed to provide EMS care beyond industrial first aid. Even their supervisors are not allowed to assist patients. This insanity must stop!
This bizarre EMS care/transport restriction prevents first responders such as fire rescue, police, search and rescue personnel, nurses, nurse practitioners and even multi-specialty emergency medicine doctors from using their life-saving skills in the prehospital EMS setting. Are you OK with that?
So Health Minister Dix, please tell us how does such a highly-restrictive care provision regulation assure best possible patient outcomes for our critical care needs condition loved ones? Well it doesn't, and many thousands of our loved ones have and will continue to pay a heavy price as a result unless you decide to sign the memo that will rescind this deadly portion of the EHS Act. Both you and the BCEHS Commission have the power do so today.
FACT: Even a critical care needs patient located in a hospital parking lot is NOT illegally allowed to be treated or moved by any first responder group other than BC Ambulance Service attendants. Yet a Good Samaritan bystander, who does NOT have any medical training or licence can. That has been the law in BC since 1974.
Now imagine being that patient, or worse, imagine that happening to your loved one, seeing doctors, nurses, firefighters, police officers, search and rescue personnel all standing around your loved one, but none are legally allowed to assist. They must wait for an ambulance attendant to arrive in order to move your loved one the few metres into the hospital to save their life.
Why would any caring MLA, of any party, vote for such a bizarre life-threatening law? Is it not common sense that ALL appropriately medically qualified and licensed first responders be allowed to assist any person in medical distress and to the full extent of their medical licence and training, regardless of what uniform they wear or what union they belong to? Of course it is. Dear MLA, remember this, your loved ones live in the same communities that we do, just like the rest of us, they are also subject to accidents or unexpected medical conditions, and then they will be subject to the same extreme dysfunctions of our chosen EMS model - just like the rest of us are. Are you OK with that?
FACT: Some international EMS jurisdictions actually have federal laws which make medical professionals subject to prosecution if they DO NOT assist all persons in medical distress, regardless of where they present. Doesn't that make sense?
BC is the only province in Canada which has such a restrictive EMS care provision law for prehospital patients. This deadly law MUST BE RESCINDED before thousands more of our loved ones die or sustain permanent injury from completely treatable but time-sensitive conditions, due in whole or in part to this incomprehensible EMS care provision restriction. Again, this is the fault of the employer and the government and not the rank and file members of BCEHS.
FACT: BC Forest Safety Council ombudsman Roger Harris, in his two-year study of BC's Helicopter Emergency Medical Services released in 2017, revealed that a number of BCEHS and BC Ambulance Service staff suggested that people who live or work in rural BC had ".... made a choice ...." and they should not expect the same level of emergency care as the residents of larger urban centres. This arrogant attitude shows an utter disregard for our rural BC critical care needs patients and provincial taxpayers. Rural BC residents' lives matter just a much as urban residents' lives. Don't you agree?
FACT: Thirty-one per cent or nearly 1.5 million BC residents live, work and play in rural BC. These rural patients have no viable timely access to ALS ambulances and it leaves them dangerously at risk and highly vulnerable to death or permanent injury from completely treatable but time-sensitive conditions which BLS attendants are simply not trained (or licensed) to treat or deal with, and it's not their fault!
A quick look at the attached map below of ALS coverage for BC will show that a vast majority of British Columbia's land area is without ALS ambulance coverage. Think about that the next time you go to the cabin or to work outside of the Lower Mainland or greater Victoria.
British Columbia needs thousands more ALS paramedics today
BC has almost 800,000 more residents and one-third more land area than Alberta. Our province has a 27,000-kilometre coastline and far more challenging topography than Alberta, yet Alberta has 5,577 more registered Emergency Medical Technicians than BC (they have 9,327 EMTs), and all of Alberta's EMTs are legally allowed to treat and transport general community residents. Alberta Health Services employs 5,500 EMTs and does 500,000 ambulance calls per year. All of Alberta's EMTs are legally allowed to treat and transport sick and injured patients to a hospital. As well, Alberta doctors and nurses are allowed to work as first responders - if they want to.
By comparison, BC has just 6,786 registered EMAs/EMTs, of those, only 3,750 are legally allowed to treat and transport ‘general public' patients to a hospital. The remaining 3,036 may ONLY treat patients if they are located on the property of a private company for which both the patient and the attending EMT work.
Due to Alberta's use of a different EMT training and hiring model, our neighbours to the east have 2,668 Advanced Life Support paramedics (1,770 hours of training), many of whom work for fire rescue departments. In Alberta, the ratio of ALS paramedics to population is one for every 1,500 residents. BC has just 240 ALS paramedics available for general public treatment and transport. To be sure, BC’s ALS paramedics are highly capable medical professionals in the prehospital setting but we don't have anywhere near enough of them. Remember, for critical care needs patients, timely intervention by (at least) ALS paramedics, is key to reduced permanent injury and saving lives. If these patients need to wait an hour or more for one of BC's few ALS ambulances to arrive, much irreversible damage can occurred; or worse.
FACT: Roughly 94 per cent of BC's ambulance attendants are only Basic Life Support-qualified (or less), meaning they only have 680 hours of total training (EMR attendants only have 107 hours of total training). Of BCEHS's 2,850 BLS attendants, 63 per cent (1,787) are only part-timers, and most of these part-time attendants work in rural BC. When their low medical abilities, part-time status and long response times are combined, the lives of critical care needs patients are put at risk. Are you OK with that?
If you live in the more remote regions of BC, you may not even get a Basic Life Support BCEHS crew in your time of desperate need. More likely, you will get an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR)-qualified crew. EMRs only have 107 hours of total training. BCEHS has 534 EMR attendants on the job.
Most Basic Life Support attendants and all EMS attendants are allowed to give patients only over-the-counter medications and are NOT allowed to administer (restricted) lifesaving drugs or perform even minor surgical procedures. These restrictions are NOT the fault of rank and file ambulance attendants, it is squarely the fault of their employer, the BCEHS and the Ministry of Health - which DOES NOT offer working BCEHS attendants the ability to upgrade their medical skills. BCEHS attendants wishing to upgrade their medical skills/license level, must do so at their own cost and on their own time. That means taking several years off work - without pay to enroll in an ALS course in New Westminster, Kelowna or Victoria at a personal cost of $15,500. And they can only do that if they have the needed years of on-the-job union seniority! How many professionals do you know that can afford to take up to three years off work - without pay - and spend that time living in one of the most expensive cities in the world to upgrade their professional skills? It's no wonder we only have 240 ALS paramedics in BC. BCEHS should offer all our working BLS/EMR attendants the ability to upgrade their licence levels and medical skills - paid for by the government.
Without question, BCEHS/BC Ministry of Health, is the sole reason why BC has such an inferior level of EMS coverage and they did this to all of us, patients, taxpayers and voters - without our knowledge or our informed consent.
One of the many takeaway messages of this petition is that BC desperately needs at least 2,000 more full-time ambulance attendants - most, if not all, should be ALS qualified. BC needs at least 200 more ambulances, at least 50 more ambulance stations, and at least 50 multi-specialty doctors providing EMS critical care in the prehospital setting to treat our most critically ill and injured loved ones. And of course at least a dozen modern, medical air rescue helicopters for these doctors to work on.
FACT: Extensive prehospital use of doctors has been commonplace in other jurisdictions since the mid-1950s.
Most, if not all, government MLAs are now fully aware that the current EHS Act directly contributes to preventable permanent injuries and many treatable deaths of their constituents, so no government MLA or government since 1974, is without blame or guilt in this issue. To all those politicians who know/knew how low-functioning our chosen ambulance service model is – remember, you chose to do nothing when you had the chance to affect change. Remember that when one of your loved ones falls victim to a life-threatening condition or injury. Do you not realize that your loved ones might find themselves in critical condition outside of hospital at some point in the future?
The price of inaction
If you think our outdated EMS model doesn't effect you, guess again. Remember this fact; your ICBC rates are affected by increasing medical costs due in part to our outdated EMS system. So are your WorkSafe BC premiums. So is the cost of every product produced and or sold in BC. So if you think the BCEHS low-functioning EMS model doesn't affect you, or is 'a great deal' for the government or taxpayer, guess again. It costs us all far more than we realize. It affects every single resident in the province, both from a potential patient perspective, as well as from a taxpayer point of view.
So if you own a car, a business, are an employee, or buy goods and services and live in BC, think about what portion of your income / tax dollar is wasted on thousands of patients now living in long-term care facilities or are living with permanent disabilities on an early pension. They perhaps did not need to be there had the EMS system been modernized decades ago. Think about the massive ICBC insurance payouts that are still being made today due to slow ambulance response times. Then think about the pay raise you didn't get because your employer has to pay through the nose for WorkSafe premiums.
Based on what other First World nations have found over the past 40 years, the only way to know for sure what amount is sufficient to spend on enhanced prehospital critical care, is by way of carrying out regular universal cost benefit studies every four years. Only this way can a socialized society like BC/Canada truly determine if we as a society are spending enough money on our prehospital care system. We are certain that a dramatic enhancement of BC's EMS model would provide all British Columbians with not only much sooner ambulance response times and vastly better critical care but also bring vastly better patient outcomes and for lower cost. It would also bring much sooner pain relief for all primary care needs patients - another definitive hallmark of a modern EMS model.
FACT: BCEHS has some of slowest ambulance response times of any modern western society. BCEHS comes nowhere near the North American benchmark standard for ambulance response times of eight minutes 59 seconds for 90 per cent of their calls (the European standard is seven minutes 59 seconds, 90 per cent of the time). In fact, BCEHS doesn't even report in 90th percentile response times, they report in 50th percentile; to be clear, this is nothing but a feeble attempt to mislead the general public to make them think their ultra-slow response times are better than they actually are.
FACT: Every single ambulance in Calgary is an ALS ambulance, Not even Vancouver or Victoria have that level of ALS coverage. Mountains, islands and long distances no barrier for world-class EMS.
BC is not the only region in the world which has to contend with vast distances, mountain ranges, islands, remote villages and extreme winter weather, yet other EMS jurisdictions handle all these conditions in stride.
To further complicate our chosen low-functioning EMS delivery model; all our highest care level facilities are located at the southwestern-most corner of the province. That makes no sense considering BC has a land area the size of the 39th largest country on Earth - the size of France and Germany combined.
Countries like Norway, with a population of 5.2 million, face similar EMS service provision challenges, yet they realized decades ago that the best way to provide their residents with state-of-the-art EMS care, is to use a coordinated system of 26 dedicated EMS helicopters and medevac aircraft. They have had the ability to fly paramedics and doctors directly to the patient for decades – regardless of where they are located in their very long country.
FACT: The BC Government used to have a fleet of medevac jets, then, some bean-counter decided that prop planes are good enough for our sickest and most critically injured, so now, all Government Air jets are gone. Medevac jets fly faster and fly higher, hence, they are better for critical-care needs patients. For those patients it is important to keep the time spent between hospitals to an absolute minimum, as when things go wrong, there is very little that can be done for them by the CCP crew attending them during the flight. The shorter time these patients are in transit, the better. Is that not common sense?
BC still relies on the Scoop and Run model of ambulance service provision
The still-in-use-by-BCEHS 200 year old 'Scoop and Run' EMS model relies on bringing the patient to a doctor in an ER as soon as possible. When a Scoop and Run EMS model is paired with slow ambulance response and return-to-hospital times and the ambulance crew which only has low medical abilities, like the vast majority of BC's BLS (or lower) qualified ambulance crews, critical care needs patients are grossly under-served. In the Scoop and Run model of EMS, only once the patient arrives at a hospital does definitive medical treatment begin. By comparison, in a modern high-functioning doctor-led (or ALS paramedic-led) Stabilize and Transport EMS model, patient stabilization and definitive treatment starts when these medical professional arrive at the patient's location. In short, the doctor or ALS paramedic-led 'Stabilize and Transport' EMS model rushes a multi-specialty doctor (or ALS paramedic) to the critical-care needs patient and while under the care of such medical professionals, is taken directly to the best suited hospital for their condition. The net patient benefits are obvious - much sooner stabilization results in better chances of survival and or with fewer, less-severe permanent injuries.
The low attendant medical ability Scoop and Run EMS model, combined with very slow ambulance response times (due to our extreme attendant and ambulance shortages all over BC), can easily become a deadly combination for patients with treatable but time-sensitive conditions, such as heart attack, stroke, bleeding, airway/breathing issues, and anaphylaxis. Given that rural BC distances are vast and at times treacherous, a high-functioning medical air rescue component is clearly medically indicated. Given that almost one-third of BC's taxpayers live and work in rural BC and that their tax dollars help pay for the world-class but centrally-located medical facilities we have in the Lower Mainland, combined with the fact that nearly 80 per cent of BC's wealth comes from rural BC, isn't it time to provide rural British Columbians with the same timely and vastly better critical care access as those residents which live in the Lower Mainland or Greater Victoria.
FACT: As many as to 10 people die each day in BC from completely treatable conditions or injuries due in whole or in part to the chosen EMS model we still use in BC (includes opioid victims).
That means that up to 3,650 treatable-condition patients are dying each year in BC because of our chosen EMS model and its many dysfunctions. When will the government finally act to reduce this terrible ongoing loss of life?
FACT: No voter, in any BC community, has the ability to vote for a mayor and council who will provide them with more or better EMS resources.
This basic right was taken away from civic voters and our civic politicians in 1974 when the NDP created the EHS Act. Yet civic voters can still vote for politicians who will give them more police and fire rescue resources in their community - but not EMS resources.
FACT: The most salvageable patients of the entire health system, present as time-sensitive condition patients in the prehospital setting; they are the easiest and cheapest to save of any patients in the entire health care system.
It is fact that these patients are the easiest and lowest cost to save, yet BCEHS employs a very limited-ability, critical-care patient needs EMS model. When combined with very slow ambulance response times, people die, salvageable patients die, our loved ones die, simple as that. Or they are left with permanent injuries which leave them debilitated and unable to work and cost the medical system for the rest of their lives.
The five-cent solution to improve prehospital critical care
Would you pay just five cents a day to have a modern, world-class prehospital critical care EMS system throughout BC? Every person we’ve asked emphatically stated "YES!" That is all it would take to bring modern EMS to all areas of BC. For just five cents per person per day, BC would be able to fund all the necessary upgrade training, add necessary equipment, hire more attendants etc. That five cents is the refund on a pop can. Do you think that is too high a price to pay to save hundreds more of our loved ones lives every year? Is that too high a price to pay to keep our ambulance attendants from burning out with PTSD? Remember in every ambulance call there are two victims; the patient and the ambulance attendant.
Cost of government inaction to taxpayers/BC society is staggering
According to BC Trauma (a branch of BCEHS) and the Fraser Health Authority, the annual cost of trauma alone (not including all other time-sensitive conditions like heart attack, stroke, breathing issues, etc) to B.C. society is between $2.8 and $5 billion per year. Despite that fact, and to the best of our knowledge, the BC Ministry of Health has never carried out a (non-partisan) universal cost-benefit analysis to definitively determine if the service levels provided by BCEHS and the currently still employed Scoop and Run EMS model is actually cost-effective, or indeed, is a 'best-possible-patient-outcome' model. Such studies have been mandatory under federal law in some European countries for more than 40 years, but not in BC. In fact, in private business, such regular cost benefit reviews help companies determine which business units and practices within their firms are operating at the highest efficiency possible - and more importantly, which aren't! These cost benefit reviews are mandatory for all Fortune 500 companies but not BCEHS. Why is that?
Furthermore, and as unbelievable as all the other dysfunctions of the BCEHS, BCEHS does NOT track patient outcomes through the Chain of Survival /Chain of Care/Chain of Rehabilitation. BCEHS only tracks patient stats to the hospital Emergency Room drop-off time point. They have no idea how their response times and patient care protocols are affecting patient outcomes.
Clearly, all stakeholders, starting with all senior managers at BCEHS, PHSA and the Ministry of Health should be held accountable, including the current Minister of Health, Adrian Dix, as we have made all this information available to all of them years before starting this petition. All knew and chose to do nothing.
FACT: There is NOT ONE THING the BCEHS EMS model does that is world leading.
In fact many BCEHS ambulances don't even have actual winter tires. Only nine of the 550 plus BCEHS ambulances are all-wheel drive and not one is equipped with automatic tire chains (like every fire truck in BC).
Past and present health ministers keep insisting we in BC have had a world-class EMS system for decades. Think about that the next time your loved one desperately needs an ambulance ride. Who are you going to hold responsible if the outcome is not great? Not the rank-and-file ambulance attendants, they are doing the very best they can with the limited resources our government provides for them. Not the firefighters who are legally NOT allowed to help, not any other first responder group which face the same restrictions as Fire Rescue does. Blame your local MLA, blame the incompetent managers at the Ministry of Health, BCEHS, PHSA for not making the policy recommendations so that more of our loved ones could have survived their time sensitive but treatable conditions. They all knew of the problems - as well as the solutions - and chose to do nothing. Hold these folks accountable when you are told: ".... We did everything possible to save your loved one ...." What they should be telling you is: ".... We did all our highly-dysfunctional EMS system allowed us to do and that wasn't enough to save your loved one."
Why you should sign this petition
Hospitals are full of people who were absolutely sure it would never happen to them. Well guess what, no one does, until it does happen. No one thinks they will slip in the shower tomorrow morning, or get T-boned in an intersection on the way to school or work - until it does and when it does, you or your loved ones, will be at the mercy of BC's inadequate, highly dysfunctional, totally inadequate prehospital critical care care system.
By signing our petition you will show BC's politicians that you are no longer willing to accept their lies and deceptions in this regard. You will be telling them that you want the same level of modern EMS care that other jurisdictions have benefited from for many decades. You will be telling them that you demand modern EMS now!
We ask that you please share this petition with all family members, all friends and all co-workers via any means possible including, Facebook, Twitter, texts, etc. doing so could save the life of someone you know and love in the near future. So please understand this simple fact; if you chose not to speak out now and support this petition, our politicians WILL NOT ACT.
Now that you know the facts, please hold your MLA accountable. Only by working together can we make a difference!
To see how other EMS jurisdictions deliver prehospital care / ambulance services, watch this video, you will be shocked. There is no reason why we can’t have this same level of care in all parts of BC:
Today: B.C. HEROS is counting on you
B.C. HEROS needs your help with “In order to save more lives and save taxpayers billions annually, B.C. must finally move to a modern, proven best practices EMS / prehospital care model”. Join B.C. HEROS and 2,729 supporters today.