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Kamloops Medivac Helicopter Contract


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of all the stories I've leafed thru trying to find a definitive answer...all I have come up with is "Members of the media were provided with a look at the air ambulance, one of four helicopters dedicated to the service in B.C. The Sikorsky S-76 can carry up to two patients and four paramedics plus pilots" and they show pics of the helijet 76

 

and it's only operational from 7am to 7pm...not quite what I expected.

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and it's only operational from 7am to 7pm...not quite what I expected.

 

It,s a VFR only contract for now.

 

The short answer is that BC Ambulance Service ( BCAS ) has a staffing problem, and is presently staffing the helicopter with a combination of full time and retired Flight Crew Paramedics, and does not have the personnel to crew a 24/7 operation.

 

The long answer goes back about 5 years when BCAS dropped funding for BLS ( Basic Life Support ) and ALS (Advanced Life Support ) training, and downloaded the cost of the training onto the individual. Cost of the courses, time away from home, and time away from work has prevented alot of BLS paramedics from upgrading to ALS paramedic, not to mention poor moral, lack of pay increases, and so on. So, now with a lack of ALS paramedics in the system, and even fewer Flight Crew Paramedics which have further training than a regular ALS Paramedic, finding the required number of crew has become so problematic, that BCAS has had to rely on retired Flight Crew Paramedics to fill slots. Add into the equation that Kamloops is too far from Vancouver for a person to travel for one shift, or even a full set of shifts, and also because there is lot,s of overtime avaiable in Vancouver, the crewing problem only worsens. It is a problem that seems a bit absurd, but having family directly involved in Kamloops, allows me some insight into the problem.

 

I am sure that in time BCAS will find the personnel and hopefully go to a 24/7 program, and then the fun will begin with wx and terrain problems associated with Kamloops.

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that sucks with the personel issue. The people of the area ultimately suffer. Hope they sort it out soon.

 

I can only relate that the majority of VSA, severe trauma and MVC's that I respond to, and we require to to medevac, fall outside that time.

 

One might think the nightime hours they could/would/should have an on call crew available.

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  • 2 weeks later...

CC has the month to month "contract" I believe, not a long term deal. The Kamloops program was a trial effort and has just recently received official approval for regular service by the Fiberal Government. A political move more than an appropriate clinical move in my opinion.......

 

The BCAS Kamloops Base Air Ambulance will go out to Government issued RFP soon I expect. One would think that it would be written similarly to the last RFP that Helijet competed for and won with the Vancouver and Prince Rupert bases.

 

BTW, the 76C+ models in use currently by BCAS and Helijet are a WELCOME upgrade to the previous A models. The base S-76 platform has always been appropriate for the Critical Care Transport work that our Flight Paramedics do but the increase in power, safety, and efficiency that the new models provide is truly outstanding.

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Not a appropriate clinical move due to lack of patient volume? Given the lengthy transport times to aproppriate levels of care in the interior & the north one would think that dedicated rotary wing aircraft would be of benefit in those locations.

 

Yup, there is no doubt that there are response and transport pre-hospital challenges faced across this Province. There is also no doubt that this new rotary program will save a certain number of lives in a specific region of the Province. That being said, in the big picture of Provincial Airevac resource allocation, there are some complexities that are not really addressed by this political move to provide a dedicated rotary resource based out of Kamloops and it isn't necessarily supported by clinical or acuity needs analysis:

 

- the relative call volume is low in Kamloops. Big media coverage calls occur for sure (but they are relatively rare incidence calls in the grand scheme of things). Kamloops has a relatively low actual call volume, especially when counting the actual provincial high acuity call volume that require Critical Care resources. Those that do require CCP care are often well (or better) served by ground or fixed wing resources.

 

- this is not a 24 hour resource - that is just a fact of funding realities and the environmental conditions around Fruitloops....again, a fixed wing resource might actually serve this area better in the long tern, especially if staffed 24/7.

 

- the crew is fixed to a mode of transport (mostly) rather than being tasked as required to the call at hand (e.g. the crew should be tasked to whatever mode of transport is available and appropriate at the time for the location and type of call). This might mean road ambulance, fixed wing aircraft available out of Vancouver, a contract rotary resource out of Kamloops, or a goat train out of Chase......long story short, you can only fly so much in these areas and you have to be flexible with the medical resources available.

 

- Here is the biggy - there are currently only two 24 hour Critical Care Paramedic staffed Airevac resources serving the WHOLE Province after 1830 right now (really only one if you pay attention to the details - the second is only used as a back-up to the primary resource from 1830 until 0630 and is actually pulled from the street in Vancouver when required). Adding a Kamloops daytime rotary resource and a Nanaimo ground CCT resource (which starts soon and is only staffed for days) only adds so much enhancement to the system, and frankly, at the wrong hours.

 

I won't poo-poo any addition to the fleet, regardless of it's configuration or political motives. Frankly, any extra money spent supporting the 10,000+ airevac and critical care transport calls BCAS does every year is a good thing. That being said, if I had my choice, I would spend the money somewhat differently.

 

Just say'in.......

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