Siren sounds on BC Ambulance scheduling blip

British Columbia Ambulance Service is investigating why there was no car coverage in Castlegar December 25, 2011 from 1am to 11pm.

A British Columbia Ambulance Service investigation into why Castlegar lacked coverage on Christmas Day has local paramedics reminding the public that dialing 911 will still send for help.

A scheduling blip resulted in no Castlegar car on duty from 1 a.m. Dec. 25 until 11 p.m. that night.

“I want to assure the public that no matter what – if we get busy or there are challenges – an ambulance will show up so please continue to call 911,” said BCAS Central Kootenay Superintendent Chris Mason.

“The first responder program compliments the BC Ambulance Service (BCAS) – it’s not there instead of.”

Castlegar firefighters responded to first responder calls during that period but without the ability to transport patients, members had to wait in some cases for ambulance personnel from Nelson to arrive.

“It’s a bit of a surprise there wouldn’t be coverage out there,” said Larry Standen, acting unit chief in Trail. “Though having said that, there are other ambulances in the area.”

The provincial service is not bound by municipal borders and often pulls vehicles from neighbouring communities to meet coverage requirements. Though low availability levels in Castlegar were recognized during the holidays, the incident managed to slip through the cracks.

“We knew in advance that we were going to have challenges in Castlegar so we put in place a contingency plan to cross cover Castlegar in the event that we had no coverage,” explained Mason. “We identified the shortfalls, we were going to cross cover but for whatever reason on Christmas Day, an ambulance was not moved into the community of Castlegar.”

An internal investigation into what occurred, including the lack of fair warning to fire rescue, is underway with no definite deadline for completion. Though he wouldn’t attribute the coverage gap to lack of paramedics to pull from, Mason did say it’s difficult to recruit professionals to the area.

“The challenges we have in rural, remote British Columbia are similar to what other communities are having for jobs,” he said. “We don’t have the industrial base we once had through the area, which is where we used to draw most of our ambulance attendants from.”

It’s also difficult to attract people to the job, which relies heavily on part-timers.

Six of Trail’s 24 staff members are full-time, meaning they don’t get to dictate their availability, while Castlegar operates with only one full-time member and 20 part-timers.

On call members, carrying a page, are paid $2 an hour and then when called out are paid a “regular” rate of pay for at least four hours.

“Foxtrot” individuals are paid $11.21 just to be at the station awaiting a call, in which case their wage would go up depending on their training level.

Just Posted

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

South Slocan’s Ti Loran is among the recipients of this year’s Neil Muth Memorial Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
Neil Muth Memorial Scholarships awarded to 4 students

Students in Creston, South Slocan and Revelstoke are sharing the honour

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is looking into a Castlegar incident. File photo
Police watchdog investigating Castlegar incident

IIO: Woman sustained a reportedly self-inflicted injury

A wildfire near Cottonwood Lake was put out by Nelson firefighters Sunday night. Photo: Submitted
Wildfire extinguished near Cottonwood Lake

Lightning-caused fire was near one of Nelson’s water sources

West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Central Mountain Air leaving Castlegar airport in July

The airline says market can’t handle two airlines

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Most Read