B.C. Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) is reestablishing ambulance coverage in Sun Peaks on weekends and other peak periods this winter.
Last winter was the first time the initiative was tested entailing an ambulance from Kamloops being stationed in anticipation of increased call volume during busier times.
A memo released by BCEHS announced this season’s policy in effect from Nov. 17, 2018 to April 14, 2019. The memo stated between those dates an ambulance will be staffed at Sun Peaks Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The memo also listed Christmas break, spring break, and other popular events in the village, including High Five Day, B.C. Family Day and Snowbombing, as dates when an ambulance will be present.
BCEHS district manager, Brian Silvester, said the move intends “to meet the predictable work demand without depleting the available emergency resources in Kamloops,” while providing a “quicker response [that] ultimately results in better patient care.”
Ambulances travelling from Kamloops to Sun Peaks have a minimum response time of 40 minutes in the winter. A BCEHS helicopter can be activated in critical cases but it’s weather dependent and not always available.
Having an ambulance on the mountain decreases wait times for ill or injured patients to access definitive care in hospital.
According to the BCEHS memo, if the ambulance in Sun Peaks is in use within its coverage hours, another standby unit is expected to be deployed to cover the village in its place.
While the ambulance is not in use, it will be stationed outside the Sun Peaks Health Centre building.
Outside of coverage hours, Sun Peaks Fire Rescue will continue to respond to 911 medical calls, ahead of the arrival of ambulance crews. On-mountain emergency responses will continue to be managed by ski patrol.
Rob Bremner, chief administrative officer for Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality, was enthusiastic about the return of the ambulance coverage.
“Obviously it’s great,” he said. “It just gives us another level of service for the ski hill and it enhances the five-days-a-week service that we have now at our health clinic and our family practice. It all works very well to gives us a safer environment here in Sun Peaks.”
There has been no ambulance coverage prearranged for busier periods over the summer yet, and BCEHS would not comment on whether this might change moving forward.
Bremner said the establishment of permanent ambulance coverage in the area is likely a few years away but it’s an idea that has been discussed previously with BCEHS.
“This community is rapidly growing with full time residents, and as we grow our product to become a four season resort, we could be able to show that there’s a need for twelve months of the year [ambulance coverage],” he said. “But at this point we’re extremely happy with what we’ve been getting.”