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‘When people call 911 they expect help’: Okanagan MLAs demand solutions to ambulance reduction

The Kelowna fire department said that Kelowna has not yet seen severe ambulance delays

The reduction of ambulance services in Kelowna has already begun to impact the community.

The Vineyards Residence assisted living home made a 911 call last week, but after being placed on hold for an unusually long time, a family member chose to drive their loved one to the hospital rather than waiting for an ambulance, said Janelle Hynes, the facility’s community relations and marketing manager.

After failing to renew the contract that was implemented in 2020, the BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) announced last week a reduction in the number of ambulances in Kelowna by 30 per cent, bringing the number of available vehicles down to seven.

“Kelowna residents could soon be seeing longer response times for emergency health services,” stated the Union of Ambulance Paramedics in B.C.

Dwight Seymour,the Kelowna Fire Department’s deputy chief of operations, told the Capital News Kelowna has not yet seen delays in ambulance services as severe as in other parts of the province.

He explained there may come a time when fire crews have to perform first aid and wait at a scene for paramedics to arrive, but it has not happened yet.

Kelowna-Mission MLA Renee Merrifield said she is is “disappointed” in the province’s decision to reduce ambulance services.

“This is a step in the wrong direction,” said Merrifield.

She said that herself and the other Okanagan MLAs have written letters to the health minister, urging him to implement permanent solutions for the province.

“People’s lives are at stake,” said Merrifield. “When people call 911, they expect help.”

The letter written by the MLAs to Minster Adrian Dix requests that action be taken to implement additional full-time paramedic resources required to operate the ambulances that Kelowna needs.


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Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

I'm a reporter in the beginning stages of my career. I joined the team at Capital News in November 2021...
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