B.C. Ambulance putting rules above common sense

AmbulancesIt’s well past time we had an ambulance service based in Sun Peaks.

Because it’s literally just a matter of time before someone dies while waiting for an ambulance to drive up the hill, turn around, and drive them to Kamloops.

We’re the second biggest ski area in Canada. But as far as BC Emergency Health Service is concerned, we might as well be Hemlock Mountain. We see ourselves as a world-class ski resort, but when it comes to health services, we’re woefully lacking.

Full points to Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality and the local community, who in the past five years have made a major effort to deliver a dedicated health centre for the community. Every year, we are getting closer to having the health facility Sun Peaks’ residents and visitors need and deserve.

And a huge thank you to Sun Peaks Fire and Rescue (SPFR).

Their first aid and first response training is among Canada’s best — it has to be.

Because without them being at the top of their game, lives would be lost while waiting for that ambulance.

They were put to that exact test and excelled earlier this year when they performed life-saving CPR on a resident for more than 20 minutes. They kept that person alive until the ambulance arrived.

They were the also first on scene in the recent hit and run, keeping the victim stabilized until the ambulance arrived.

But what if they didn’t have to wait? What if they could have driven those people straight to the hospital, or even to Heffley Creek and met a Kamloops ambulance halfway?

When you consider there are members of SPFR who actually work as paramedics — who are actually professional ambulance officers — it must be incredibly frustrating when they come to work in Sun Peaks they are restricted by law in what they are able to do to save a life.

I spoke with Mayor Al Raine about the situation earlier this month. He described it as putting “rules and regulations ahead of common sense.”

Raine said he was told there would be no ambulance in Sun Peaks, because there was not enough need to justify one. Not even seasonally, like other ski hills have had in the past.

BC Emergency Health Service told me “As BCEHS is publicly funded, it would be cost prohibitive to have ambulances standing by at every ski hill in the province during winter season.”

So instead we have trained staff in Sun Peaks who can legally operate an ambulance, a municipality and a community who need an ambulance, and hundreds of thousands of visitors each year who could potentially need an ambulance — and our nearest one is still 45 minutes way.

The objective has to be getting people to the hospital faster than we are now.

Lives depend on it.




  1. If BC Ambulance refuses to put an ambulance at Sun Peaks and the need is there, the municipality should acquire an ambulance and staff it 24/7 during the winter season and bill the entire cost back to the BC Ambulance Service.
    Sounds to me like the BCAS is failing to provide the service it is mandated to do!

  2. There is sooo much more to this story.. Lack of Ambulances Province wide and properly paid ‘on call’ Ambulance Medic Staff.
    Most of rural BC is staffed by “on call” Paramedics and EMR’s.
    A 2 dollar an hour “stand by stipend” is what part time “on call” Medics receive until they get a call during their 12 hour shift (an average shift).
    If, and when, these rural medics get a call, they get paid for 4 hours at their regular rate of pay. How does one live on that wage??? Many do not!
    Last I heard, the lower mainland is short 40 Ambulances.. Long waits for Ambulances Province wide is the norm. Patients frequently wait much longer than the 7 to 8 minutes that it should take for a Medic crew and Ambulance. The system is broken IMO.

  3. In total agreement with Mr. Bergum, the population in BC has risen by tens of thousands over the years with no increase to services. It hurts the the crews on the streets to know there are patients waiting and there is nothing they can do about it.

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