The Fraser Valley’s only ground-based critical-care ambulance is being moved May 11 from Abbotsford to Vancouver. (Submitted photo)

The Fraser Valley’s only ground-based critical-care ambulance is being moved May 11 from Abbotsford to Vancouver. (Submitted photo)

Valley’s only critical-care ambulance being moved from Abbotsford to Vancouver

Paramedics’ union concerned that relocation could jeopardize patient safety

The union representing paramedics in B.C. is concerned that the region’s only ground-based critical-care ambulance is being moved from Abbotsford to Vancouver International Airport (YVR).

Troy Clifford, president of the Ambulance Paramedics and Emergency Dispatchers of BC (CUPE local 873), said the move will jeopardize the safety of patients.

But the employer, BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS), says the relocation is necessary because the ambulance wasn’t being as well-utilized in the Fraser Valley as it could be in Vancouver.

The specialized ambulance – which has served an area from Langley to Boston Bar and Manning Park for about the last five years – is scheduled to move to the south terminal of YVR on May 11.

Clifford said the ambulance is like an intensive-care unit on wheels. It is used for transporting acutely or critically ill and injured people to hospitals when an air ambulance cannot be used – for example, due to poor weather conditions or an inadequate place to land.

RELATED: BC paramedics stepping up in COVID-19 battle

The ambulance transports people both from the field – such as at a serious car crash – or from one hospital to another that is better equipped to treat them. This could include a trauma centre, such as Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster.

Clifford said many of these patients have included those with COVID-19.

The critical-care paramedics have the highest level of training available in the field, with approximately six years of education. There are four assigned to the Abbotsford crew, which covers a 12-hour day shift every day of the week.

Without them, a regular ambulance crew might have to be accompanied by a physician, a registered nurse and/or a respiratory therapist, which impacts hospital staffing that is critically needed, Clifford said.

He said Abbotsford was chosen as the base for the ground critical-care ambulance a few years ago because of its central location to hospitals in the Fraser Valley and its high population base.

But he fears that having the unit based in Vancouver could have serious consequences because it cannot respond in a timely manner to rural locations in the Fraser Valley.

RELATED: How B.C. paramedics are responding to COVID-19

“Simply put, patient outcomes will be affected and patients may die,” Clifford wrote in a letter to BCEHS.

Shannon Miller, BCEHS communications officer, said the placement of the critical care unit in Abbotsford was never intended to be permanent, and it is now being returned to its “home station” at YVR.

She said the decision to move the unit was based on on-call demand.

“Careful monitoring of this unit indicated it had a significantly lower level of calls compared to similar units across the province. This included some days with no calls at all,” Miller stated in an email.

She said the unit will continue to provide acute-patient care across the Lower Mainland – in coordination with air ambulances – and will respond to calls across municipalities as they are needed.

“The is an operational decision by BCEHS that will provide better care and response to critically ill and injured patients across B.C.,” Miller said.

BC Health

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Through his lens, Doug Cook captured this picture of the Fraser River, Mount Baker, an eagle, and even the Golden Ears Bridge on a sunny fall afternoon. The photo was taken from the wooden walkway leading down to the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport float plane dock. (Contributed photo)
Friends of Semiahmoo Bay to host virtual World Wetland Day event

Webinar event to feature six speakers, to be held Feb. 2

One of the Choices Lottery grand prize packages includes a home located at 16730 19 Ave., Surrey. (Contributed photo)
Two South Surrey homes featured in Choices Lottery

Tickets on sale now for BC Children’s Hospital lottery

Pindie Dhaliwal, one of the organizers for the Surrey Challo protest for Indian farmers. She says organizers were told by Surrey RCMP that the event was not allowed due to COVID-19. Organizers ended up moving the protest to Strawberry Hill at the last minute. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Indian farmers rally moves as organizers say Surrey RCMP told them they couldn’t gather

Protest originally planned in Cloverdale, moved to Strawberry Hill

The City of Surrey is currently working through the initial phase for a park that’ll be built at 72 Avenue and 191 Street in Clayton. (Image via City of Surrey)
New park to be built in Clayton Heights

City of Surrey asking for feedback from Clayton residents

Fraser Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at a Surrey high-intensity rehabilitation unit, Laurel Place. On Dec. 22, 2020, Fraser Health said four patients and two staff members have tested positive for the virus. (Image: Google Street View)
Fraser Health says COVID-19 outbreak over at Laurel Place in Surrey

Health authority declared outbreak over Jan. 16

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

sdf
Another Mission student arrested for assault, in 2nd case of in-school violence this week

RCMP notified of local Instagram page with videos (now deleted) showing student assaults, bullying

Most Read