BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) new helicopter and plane, both based in Nanaimo, have just begun responding to patients up and down the island, as well as for patients on Salt Spring Island, the Gulf Islands and Sunshine Coast. BCEHS air ambulances respond to critical hospital transfer patients as well as emergency 9-1-1 medical calls. About 90 per cent of air ambulance responses are interfacility transfers, from hospital to hospital.
BCEHS has traditionally called in air ambulance response from Vancouver, or to contractors on the Island to assist when a patient requires an air ambulance transport to hospital, now that emergency air response begins mid-island.
This dedicated helicopter and plane allow BCEHS to quickly transport patients in rural and remote communities to places with higher levels of care. The BCEHS air ambulance program is made up of a dedicated fleet of 16 air ambulances: six helicopters and 10 planes. Helicopters are based in: Vancouver, Nanaimo, Kamloops, Prince George and Prince Rupert. Planes are based in: Vancouver, Nanaimo, Kelowna, Prince George, and Fort St. John. In addition to their air resources, BCEHS can call upon more than 30 pre-qualified air carriers around the province to provide service as needed.
Helicopters are generally more efficient for short distances (less than 250kms), responding to accident scenes, or to transport patients “rooftop to rooftop” between two hospitals. Transports longer than 250 kilometres are better served by planes.
Additional air resources are coupled with an increase in staffing in the Nanaimo region including the addition of five Critical Care Paramedics (this doubles the number of Critical Care Paramedics in the region).
These new resources began mid-month November and immediately began filling a demand, logging 2-3 patient air responses a day.
Our air ambulance helicopter recently landed on the Island Highway to respond to a patient in a traumatic vehicle accident, airlifted a severely injured patient who fell from a roof in around Qualicum, and transferred a critically injured patient from the Nanaimo hospital to a Victoria hospital in a 20-minute flight, instead of a lengthy ground ambulance transfer.
BCEHS is pleased to be partnering with Ascent Helicopters for our air ambulance helicopter – a specialized MD902 complete with night vision technology for poor light responses and Alkan Air who has contracted BCEHS one of their turbo-prop planes operated out of the Nanaimo airport.
“Ascent Helicopters is very proud to be the only company to provide dedicated air ambulance services to Vancouver Island. As islanders, we know our communities, local landscape, geography and weather. Our mid-island location means we can respond quickly and most efficiently to the South, the North and the West coasts.” - Trent Lemke, President & CEO, Ascent Helicopters
Annually, BCEHS responds to more than 7,000 patients requiring transportation by air ambulance.
Photo courtesy of Ascent Helicopters.