Thursday, July 29, 2021

Langley City Council calls on Province to Improve Coordination of Pre-Hospital Care

During the recent heat dome event over BC, 719 people suddenly died. The heat dome was a tragedy because these deaths could have been reduced. Some of these deaths were caused by systemic problems with our pre-hospital care system. We’ve known that there have been management issues and chronic underfunding of the BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) ambulance service for decades.

Langley City Fire Rescue Service

Local governments have tried to fill the gap with our Fire Rescue Service First Responders, but there are still challenges with funding and coordination. You can see this in the most recent Langley City Fire Rescue Service call stats, which show medical response calls volumes were all over the map over the last year.

The Auditor General of British Columbia’s report “Access to Emergency Health Services” made the following recommendations:

That the Ministry of Health work with local governments and BCEHS to ensure that BCEHS can implement a coordinated approach to pre-hospital care that results in:

  • Medical oversight, to the extent appropriate, across agencies to ensure that patient care meets acceptable medical standards
  • Data-sharing between agencies to better understand whether patients are getting the right medical interventions at the right time
  • Signed agreements outlining the roles and responsibilities of fire departments, including the level of care provided
  • Confirmation that first responders are being notified of events where they can best contribute to patient care

The Auditor General of British Columbia made these recommendations in 2019, but little changed.

Unfortunately, it took the death of 719 British Columbians, but the provincial government is now taking action, including providing more funding for the ambulance service and “reconstituting the BC Emergency Health Services board.”

The province said little about how it would act on the Auditor General’s recommendations regarding coordination with First Responders and local governments like Langley City.

As a result, Langley City Council passed the following motion from Councillor Gayle Martin.

THAT the Province of BC and BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) immediately allocate the funding to improve ambulance response time; and to improve coordination with fire departments to support consistent application of medical standards, information sharing, an integrated dispatch system, and improvements to patient care as recommended in the Auditor General report.

THAT Minister Dix take concrete actions to treat First Responders as an equal and an integral partner of the pre-hospital care system with adequate support (e.g. training) and resources (e.g. cost recovery) in order to achieve this goal.

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