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Dedicated air ambulance service for Kamloops

September 8, 2011  By Aaron Orlando – Revelstoke Times Review

Sept. 8, 2011, Kamloops, B.C. - A new dedicated helicopter air ambulance based at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital was put into service on Aug. 30.

The ‘dedicated’ helicopter means a crew of paramedics will staff the helicopter for 12 hours per day, seven days a week, ready to take off at a moment’s notice. It will serve an area including Revelstoke.

The announcement follows an eight-week trial period last summer. During the trial, the BC Ambulance Service Critical Care Transport helicopter was deployed 62 times and was used to transport patients to hospitals in Kamloops, Kelowna and Vancouver a total of 33 times.

Following the trial, the BCAS reverted to the existing system, which involved using chartered helicopters and dedicated airplanes. The new helicopter will not completely replace the old system, but will be integrated into it. A BCAS spokesperson stressed to the Times Review that the treatment and transport of patients involved in critical care incidents involved a complex set of variables. Depending on circumstances, the helicopter may or may not be used in incidents such as a bad car crash on the Trans-Canada Highway, or an industrial accident in the backcountry.

The key advantage of the new system is having the specialized trauma team on stand-by next to the helicopter. Previously, the team would have to make its way to a chartered helicopter, using up precious time in critical incidents.


“Everyone knows about ‘The Golden Hour’ – that tight, precious window of time when people’s chances of survival and optimal recovery are highest,” said Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Kevin Krueger. “Emergency room physicians and your local MLAs have worked eight years for this service.”

“Our region includes geography that can present a challenge for those responding to medical emergencies. This option will help address long distances and mountainous landscapes,” said Interior Health CEO Dr. Robert Halpenny. “The dedicated helicopter service, along with Interior Health’s High Acuity Response Teams that were launched last year, together will provide excellent emergency response service.”

There are four dedicated helicopter air ambulances in the province: two in Vancouver, one in Prince Rupert and now one in Kamloops. Six fixed-wing air ambulances based in Vancouver, Kelowna and Prince George also support the BCAS Critical Care Transport program. BCAS is responsible for the operation and delivery of the dedicated helicopter air ambulance service.

The estimated annual cost for the service is $2.35 million, which will come from within the existing Emergency Health Services Commission’s budget.


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