Former paramedic endorses B.C.’s emergency response plan in new report

By on May 3, 2014

File photo: Dragon Images / ShutterStock
File photo: Dragon Images / ShutterStock

VANCOUVER—The latest response plan implemented by BC Emergency Health Services has received a healthy endorsement from a former paramedic and expert on emergency care.

Alan Craig has completed a report on the Emergency Health Services resource allocation plan and finds there is strong evidence that it meets the needs of patients and makes B.C. a leader among emergency medical service systems.

The ambulance service recently downgraded its response to 74 types of calls, dropping them from emergency to routine, in a change that critics, including Vancouver fire chief John McKearney, say will increase ambulance wait times.

Craig says there is no medical benefit to firefighters attending some calls and such responses depend on municipalities’ decisions but his findings are based on 630,000 recent medical calls from patients across B.C.

He says that while the B.C. plan would send firefighters to 31 per cent of emergency calls, firefighter response is much lower in Ontario, with firefighters attending less than 20 per cent of calls in Toronto, for example.

He says dispatching first responders is most useful and cost effective for time-sensitive incidents requiring care such as CPR, while lights-and-siren responses to reports of crashes, broken bones or chest pains simply raise the risk to responders and the public.