The BC Ambulance Service on June 8 started their new ‘Autolaunch’ service, which simultaneously dispatches helicopter and ground paramedic crews to serious incidents.
The BCAS says the new system will shorten the time it takes to treat and transport patients to trauma centres, sometimes by several hours.
Here’s how it works: Based on information provided by 911 callers, dispatchers identify instances when an Autolaunch would likely be beneficial. A helicopter-based critical care team and a local ground ambulance are both dispatched. If the ground ambulance arrives first and feels the helicopter team is not needed, they can cancel the incoming helicopter and handle treatment and transport by road. If the helicopter is needed, the helicopter-based crew can treat and then transport the patient directly to a regional trauma centre hospital.
Prior to June 8, trauma patients in the Nakusp area were treated and transported by ground ambulance to the nearest local hospital where a physician would then request an ambulance transfer to a regional trauma centre if needed.
The Autolaunch program is already in place in several areas of B.C., including Vancouver Island, Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health, the East Kootenay and in the western portion of Northern B.C.