B.C. Emergency Health Services ambulance station at Langley Memorial Hospital. (Black Press files)

Firefighters may be needed for paramedic apartment access, experts say

Better coordination recommended in urban B.C. 9-1-1 calls

A woman who bled to death in her East Vancouver apartment last year could have been treated more quickly with better communication between 9-1-1 dispatchers, paramedics and the fire department, an expert review has found.

A review by two medical experts describes paramedics responding to the woman’s distress call in November 2018, where they first had trouble getting in the front door of a building. Then couldn’t get through a second set of elevators to reach her sixth-floor room, because a security fob was required.

It took 35 minutes from the original call to reaching the scene, by which time the woman had no pulse and could not be resuscitated, the report says.

The building is one of the Downtown Eastside facilities taken over and renovated by B.C. Housing, completed in 2015. It had a lock box at the entrance with keys and fob for emergency access, but access to that was available only to the Vancouver Fire Department.

RELATED: B.C. communities say ambulance priorities hurt rural areas

RELATED: Portland Hotel Society bosses travelled to Vienna, Paris

Health Minister Adrian Dix called it a “tragic case” and said his ministry will work with B.C. Emergency Health Services to implement the 14 recommendations made in the case review, by two emergency physicians. Most of them deal with better communication and coordination between firefighters and paramedics.

“The Ministry of Health will work to support the implementation and recommendations which are focused on ensuring clear and robust processes to gain rapid access to multi-unit buildings and better communication between agencies for emergency cases,” Dix said in a statement released by the ministry.

In many regions of B.C., where even 35-minute ambulance response is unlikely, B.C.’s ambulance dispatch system changes made last year have prompted debate at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention this week. Those regions want more use of medically trained volunteers.

Called the “clinical response model,” the changes were made in May 2018 to respond to a rise in non-emergency calls to 9-1-1, such as vehicle accidents with no injuries.

“Under the new system, highly trained rural first responders attached to fire departments and rescue societies are being called less frequently to medical incidents in their areas, resulting in pain and suffering and risking patient lives in rural and remote areas where ambulance dispatch may be an hour or more away, the Central Kootenay Regional District says in a resolution to be discussed at the UBCM convention.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

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

Just Posted

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

Police watchdog investigating Lake Country incident

A man was taken to hospital after the June 3 incident

Community backlash over Black Lives Matter rally in Kelowna

Some members of Kelowna’s black community stated they don’t support Friday’s rally

$30,000 over 30 weeks for local causes

Send us your good stories and you could win money for your favourite cause

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Vernon protesters take Black Lives Matter movement to park

A handful of demonstrators raised fists, signs in solidarity Friday

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Bear strolls into Okangan homeowner’s living room

Conservation officers are searching for the bear, which entered a home in the Foothills area

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Youth advocacy group pulls out of Vernon Black Lives Matter protest

Earth Strike Vernon pulled its support after concerns raised about Kelowna, Vernon protests

‘I just felt I had to do something’: Vernon Black Lives Matter protest organizer

Young woman organizes peaceful protest to take place next week at Vernon courthouse

Most Read