A transition to the new Scheduled-On Call system is set for Nakusp BCEHS. (Black Press file photo).

A transition to the new Scheduled-On Call system is set for Nakusp BCEHS. (Black Press file photo).

Nakusp Mayor calls for full time ambulance coverage

The area is set to get BCEHS’ new Scheduled On-Call system

Mayor Tom Zeleznik and Electoral Area K director Paul Peterson are calling on the province to reconsider BC Emergency Health Services’ new Scheduled On-Call system.

“The public need to be heard by our MLA, and Health Minister, that this system will fail by putting them at increased risk, and could prove fatal with longer ambulance response times,” they said in a letter.

The two local representatives penned a letter to MLA Katrine Conroy, asking for assistance in arranging a meeting with Adrian Dix, minister of health.

Under the new system, the ambulance station in Nakusp will be staffed with two paramedics eight hours per day, for the remaining 16 hours paramedics will be on-call, paid a $2 per hour stipend.

“Local paramedics warn the conversion to SOC could substantially increase response times up to 20 minutes or more during those 16 hours when no one is at the station,” the letter said.

The changes were first announced in July, when Dix announced that 22 rural ambulance stations would be converted to provide round-the-clock coverage while plans for the 16 others were to be announced at a later date.

READ MORE: B.C. funds 85 new paramedics, 22 ambulances as demand climbs

Nakusp council and staff were consulted on Nov. 19, by BCEHS about the new system, this letter is part of the city’s response to that consultation.

“Out local doctors have expressed major concerns, stating ‘This is an issue that certainly needs to be addressed. We are often stuck with sick patients as we have no ambulance available to transfer them to another hospital’,” said the letter.

Zeleznik and Peterson said they believe it should take less than eight minutes for an ambulance to arrive if called to a life-threatening emergency.

“Every second counts,” the leader reads. “Any delays only serve to deteriorate the victims’ condition to a point that severely hampers their prospects for making a full recovery.”

The letter suggest finding a model unique to Nakusp and the surrounding area, which includes Edgewood and Trout Lake, such as adding more resources to support inter-facility transfers and cross coverage in neighbouring communities in the North Arrow Lakes. They also suggest a 12 hour day shift and a 12 hour afternoon shift while retaining the Scheduled On-Call system.

“We need to continually address the unique needs of the community with our small rural hospital that requires a consistent and timely method of transferring patients to a higher level of care of diagnostics in Trail, Nelson, Vernon or Kelowna,” said the letter.

READ MORE: New 911 system aims to increase number of calls E-Comm operators can take



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