New ambulance coverage for community

The ambulance is deployed from Kamloops to Sun Peaks for standby between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., Friday to Sunday. SPIN Photo.

In December BC Ambulance Service (BCAS) started stationing an ambulance in Sun Peaks to decrease its emergency response time during busier periods.

The ambulance is deployed from Kamloops to Sun Peaks for standby between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., Friday to Sunday, as well as during special events and peak periods, such as over Christmas break. It’s an incentive Sun Peaks’ municipality has been discussing with BCAS for over four years.

“It was one of the services we were looking at and thinking was important for us, but not getting strong indications that anything was imminent,” said Rob Bremner, Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality chief administrative officer.  

The new resource follows a review by BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) of the region’s call volume, which identified Sun Peaks as an area that would “benefit from the availability of a BCEHS resource,” wrote Brian Silvester, manager for patient care delivery with BCEHS in an email response to questions.

The “predictable work demand” of Sun Peaks during busier periods and the delays that arise due to its remoteness justified the staffing of the additional ambulance and its placement in the community on a part-time basis. The new ambulance is intended to help meet the pre-hospital demands in a more timely fashion and provide a shorter time frame for patients to be transported to Royal Inland Hospital, without impacting emergency responses in Kamloops.

While BCEHS deemed it merely a trial, Bremner saw the move as a sign that development of a permanent ambulance station in the community might not be far off.

“With our growth, not only of our full-time residents, but in visitors also, somewhere in the very near future it will show to be viable,” he said, acknowledging that no long term prospects have been discussed.

BCEHS declined to comment on the future of ambulance coverage in Sun Peaks.

When the ambulance is off-mountain, Sun Peaks Fire Rescue will continue to respond to medical emergencies as before, and provide assistance until BCAS is available to take over care and transport to hospital. Similarly, Sun Peaks Resort LLP ski patrol will continue to treat and transport injured people off the ski slopes during the resort’s operational hours.

While complementing these ongoing services, the new BCEHS presence augments recent developments in Sun Peaks’ healthcare.

“The timing couldn’t be better with the opening of the clinic and with ski patrol having significantly better facilities,” Bremner said. “We’ve certainly advanced a long way in a very short time. It’s just another little piece that makes it a little easier to live here.”