Mid-island communities are the most dominant call areas for air ambulance transports this year. (BC Emergency Health Services/Twitter)

Air ambulance calls on Vancouver Island way down so far in 2020

Only 519 transports from Vancouver Island so far, compared to 1,107 total calls in 2019

A year after a sizable jump in traffic, the number of Air Ambulance calls seems to have returned to normal on Vancouver Island in 2020.

So far, the number of calls from the Island is down this year, with only 519 calls being made during the first eight months of 2020, far behind the pace that resulted in 1,107 calls in 2019.

Based on data provided by BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) 86 of the calls made in 2020 were for medical emergency and 433 were for medical transfer to hospitals.

In 2019, there were 174 medical emergency calls recorded and 933 medical transfers. That number was higher than the trend observed in 2018 ( 643 calls) and 2017 (608 calls).

RELATED: B.C. air ambulance flying Nanaimo to Victoria targeted by laser: Transport Canada

RELATED: Santa’s helicopter hospital hop brightens day for sick children

“Our busiest times for air ambulance response is at the end of the summer and the bulk of the calls come nearer to the year’s close than the first half of the year. So by the end of this year we could easily see much higher numbers,” said BCEHS spokesperson Shannon Miller.

Troy Clifford, provincial president of the union that represents Ambulance Paramedics and Emergency Dispatchers, said that ambulance dispatchers have observed a decrease in calls this year, possibly because people are staying home.

B.C. paramedics reported in March that 75 per cent of calls to 911 ambulance dispatch were related to suspicions of COVID-19 or other influenza-type symptom.

“With a large chunk of our population in self-isolation at home, ambulance dispatchers say they are receiving fewer calls about car accidents, falls, assaults, and workplace accidents,” said Clifford.

Also, with surgeries being cancelled, there were less calls for transporting patients to hospital, said Clifford.

Nanaimo, Port Alberni and Courtenay, as well as isolated communities, including the Gulf Islands are the most dominant call areas for air ambulances on Vancouver Island.

The Island accounted for 14 per cent of air ambulance transports in B.C in 2019/20, which was also the second lowest in the province.

In B.C., for fiscal year 2019/20, 39 per cent of air ambulance transports were done for Northern Health, followed by 26 percent for Interior Health, 18 per cent for Vancouver-Coastal and two per cent for Fraser Health.

Annually, BCEHS responds to more than 7,000 patients requiring transportation by air ambulance.

Most of the medical response calls are for traumatic injuries, traffic incidents, falls and medical emergencies requiring immediately air ambulance response, said Miller.

About 90 per cent of air ambulance responses are for hospital transfer patients in critical condition.

BCEHS air ambulance program has a fleet of four air ambulance helicopters and six airplanes. It can also avail the services of 30 pre-qualified air carriers province-wide, if needed.

Critical Care Paramedics (the highest level of paramedic care, with a focus on air medical response) are deployed from aircraft bases in Prince George, Kelowna, Kamloops, Nanaimo and Vancouver.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Healthvancouverisland

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

Just Posted

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

Saanich police encourage safe driving habits as rain leads to pooling on roadways

Slow down, inspect vehicle ahead of driving in wet autumn weather

Voting now ready for Arts Alive 2020 sculptures

Audio and written descriptions posted for all 10 sculptures

Victoria police seek suspect in parkade break and enter

Cycling gear, tools reported stolen from vehicle, storage locker

Saanich’s autumn full-moon lantern celebration shifts to drive-thru

Harvest Moon event takes place Sept. 26 in Gordon Head

B.C.’s top doctor thanks supporters after revealing threats over COVID-19 measures

Dr. Bonnie Henry says COVID-19 has caused some people to lash out in anger and frustration out of fear

POLL: Do you agree with the decision to call a provincial election for Oct. 24?

British Columbians will put their social distancing skills to the test when… Continue reading

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. VOTES 2020: Speculation tax misses speculators, B.C. Liberals say

Andrew Wilkinson, John Horgan clash over housing costs, solutions

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

NDP, Greens divided on pace of child care improvements in B.C. election campaign

NDP Leader John Horgan recommitted to $10-a-day child care and blamed the Greens for not supporting his efforts

Rare fish washes onto Whiffin Spit in Sooke

Deep water fish identified as ‘King-of-the-salmon’

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Most Read