B.C. Emergency Health Services bike paramedics Ryan Dear (left) and Jay Gargus start off a shift in Victoria’s downtown on July 25. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)

Bike paramedics proves successful in Victoria’s downtown: says health services

Numbers show initiative reduces need for ambulance transport

An initiative that brought bike paramedics to Victoria’s downtown two years ago has been proving successful, according to B.C. Emergency Health Services.

The initiative, launched as a trial in 2017 in response to the opioid crisis, sees a pair of paramedics on bikes patrol downtown for eight hours a day, seven days week, from May to October. Assessing the initiative’s effectiveness against the opioid crisis is, of course, difficult — a number of factors play in to the opioid crisis in B.C. — but numbers from the health service still point to the program working successfully.

Last year, for example, 142 ambulance calls in Victoria were cancelled due to on-scene bike paramedic care.

“Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell what’s going on through a telephone, with a dispatcher, but the bikes are able to quickly get eyes on a situation and, in a lot of cases, take care of that situation themselves, eliminating the need for other emergency vehicles to come into the core,” Tyrone Trotter, a paramedic supervisor with B.C.E.H.S., said.

The response from the bike paramedics, then, may allow an ambulance to be freed up for another emergency in the Capital Regional District or for the ambulance crew to downgrade their response from emergency to routine — meaning a response without emergency lights or sirens.

READ ALSO: Over 200 lives saved in first year at Victoria’s supervised consumption site

READ ALSO: Special Report: Greater Victoria ambulance crews run off their feet with overdose calls

According to B.C.E.H.S., bike paramedics responded to nearly 700 calls and assessed 560 patients in 2018, with a third of the patients not requiring transport to hospital. The paramedics’ responses also allowed ambulance crews to downgrade 170 responses, that same year.

The bikes allow paramedics to better maneuver through crowds and small spaces, which, sometimes, ensures a response faster than the one of an ambulance battling downtown traffic. The bikes also, according to Trotter, allow for increased community engagement.

“We certainly weren’t able to predict the amount of community engagement the bike squad would have, being at the street level,” he said. “In an ambulance, when you’re stopped at a traffic light downtown or driving around, you don’t get to have the level of conversation that we’ve found paramedics have on bikes.”

That engagement, he said, allows for “an extra set of eyes for situations as they develop” — which can include potential overdoses.

Victoria, according to the health service, consistently records the third highest rate of overdose calls in B.C., behind Vancouver and Surrey. The city saw 1,531 overdose calls in 2018, 1,398 calls in 2017 and 1,149 calls in 2016.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Saanich landfill gets used oil and antifreeze dropoff centre upgrades

BC Used Oil Management Association oversees upgrades, two new facilities in province

Colwood man to ride 400 kilometres to fight kids cancer

Man riding for a beloved family member who died from leukemia at 13-years-old

Saanich woman completes 10 marathons, raises double her initial goal amount

Over $20,000 raised for Victoria Hospitals Foundation

UPDATED: Missing 25-year-old Saanich woman found Saturday

Yuhan Jin thought to be travelling by foot or bus, carrying two suitcases

Victoria program helps businesses shift swiftly in wake of COVID-19

Bring Back Victoria helps businesses open patios, create welcoming, safe spaces for customers

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

Travel restrictions inspiring co-operation in border communities

Small border towns are asking for exemption to travel ban

B.C. First Nation adopts ‘digital twinning’ software to better manage territory

Software allows users to visualize what a mountain might look like if the trees on its slopes were logged

Woman arrested near Nanaimo beach after alleged road rage incidents

37-year-old woman facing charges including assault, assaulting a police officer, impaired driving

All inquiry recommendations implemented after fatal Port Hardy RCMP shooting: Ministry

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. cleared the RCMP officers involved of wrongdoing

Leave your deets when dining: Restaurants taking personal info to trace COVID-19

Health officials say indoor dining presents a higher risk

Raptors kneel for both American and Canadian anthems ahead of tipoff

Majority of players have substituted their names on the backs of their jerseys with racial and social justice messages

Most Read