View Royal Coun. Andrew Britton stands outside the BC Ambulance station on Jacklin Roads where there will be fewer ambulances awaiting calls after the two peak-hour vehicles are reassigned to the central station closer to Victoria.

View Royal Coun. Andrew Britton stands outside the BC Ambulance station on Jacklin Roads where there will be fewer ambulances awaiting calls after the two peak-hour vehicles are reassigned to the central station closer to Victoria.

Single ambulance to serve West Shore during day

  • May. 27, 2011 9:00 a.m.

Two ambulances shifting to overburdened Victoria for three month trial

Sam Van Schie

News staff

Sirens whirl down Sooke Road but the ambulance they’re coming from didn’t originate from the nearby Colwood station.

View Royal Coun. Andrew Britton, standing outside West Shore’s only BC Ambulance station at the corner of Sooke and Jacklin roads, guesses the emergency vehicle was dispatched from Royal Oak, as local ambulances are already out on calls.

It’s a situation he expects to be much more common after June 1 when the two ambulances that operate out of Colwood during daytime hours are reassigned to the central station on Douglas Street near Uptown, leaving West Shore with a single 24-hour, seven-day-per week ambulance.

Britton, a paramedic by trade, says he’s concerned emergency response times will increase on the West Shore, putting residents at risk.

“What we need is more ambulances and ultimately more funding from the province to pay for them,” he said. “Taking services from one place and putting them somewhere else doesn’t solve the problem. It’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

But Shawn Carby, executive director for BC Ambulance on Vancouver Island, said West Shore’s ambulances are under utilized.

“It’s hard to make a case for more resources when we’re not making the best use of what we already have,” he said, noting Victoria has a much higher call volume than the West Shore.

“We have no expectation this will have an impact on West Shore response time,” Carby said. “It should actually improve response times overall, by moving the cars closer to where the majority of calls originate.”

Britton doesn’t deny that Victoria is swamped with calls, but he fears West Shore could see a rush when all the Victoria ambulances are already on the road.

“They’ll have to dispatch from Sooke or Sidney. There’s no way they’ll make it in the critical (eight minute) window when a life is at risk,” he said. “I’d rather there be three ambulances sitting here unused than know we’re unprepared when multiple emergencies happen.”

Regional vice-president of the Ambulance Paramedics of BC Union (CUPE 874) Rick Atkinson said West Shore paramedics are generally out on calls for 45 to 60 per cent of their shift.

“They need downtime between calls to fill out paperwork and clean the ambulance,” he said, adding that overworked paramedics are more likely to become sick, injured or burnt out. This is common in Victoria where paramedics are out of the station for up to 90 per cent of their shift.

Atkinson says ambulances are taken out of circulation for shifts two or three times per month in Greater Victoria’s core due to a lack of paramedics — all on-call staff are already filling in for sick or injured full-time paramedics.

Atkinson doesn’t agree with shifting resources from Colwood to ease the problem.

“The population is growing and our resources aren’t keeping up. We’re moving backwards.”

The Colwood station has had at least two ambulances since 1976. In 2006, there was public outcry when BC Ambulance pulled Colwood’s on-call “kilo car” for transferring patients between hospitals, which would have brought the station down to one ambulance.

Ultimately it brought on the two vehicles now in question to have a secondary ambulance on shift during the day.

Colwood councillor and protective services committee chair Gordie Logan was among those speaking up in 2006 to keep the ambulances at the Colwood station. He was surprised to hear the service is threatened again.

“We weren’t notified. BC Ambulance has kept us completely in the dark about this,” he said.

Carby, a West Shore resident himself, says the reassignment of the ambulances is a 90 day trial and will be reviewed after that time.

But Logan intends to start fighting to have the decision reversed immediately. “It’s maddening to see our services downgraded,” he said. “It makes no sense. It’s a short sighted and puts lives at risk.”

news@goldstreamgazette.com

 

Just Posted

A single-vehicle incident impacted the morning commute on the Pat Bay Highway. (Black Press Media file photo)
TRAFFIC: Single-vehicle incident closes section of Pat Bay

Northbound traffic down to one lane, southbound reopened

Construction will begin soon on a building in Victoria designed for families and seniors with low to moderate household incomes. (Black Press Media file photo)
New building in Victoria aimed at providing more affordable homes for families, seniors

Four-storey building will provide 58 homes for residents with low to moderate household incomes

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Four residents and two cats were displaced from their home in James Bay when a fire broke out Sunday afternoon. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
No injuries in James Bay house fire

Fire broke out at about 2 p.m. Sunday

Coun. Bob Thompson wants authorities to delay the June 30 deadline for submissions to BC Housing’s request-for-proposal to run the supportive housing project at Prosser Road. (Black Press Media File)
Central Saanich calls for delay in supportive housing project deadline

Municipality wants more say in eventual choice of contractor to run supportive housing project

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto and IOC President Thomas Bach, on a screen, speak during a five=party online meeting at Harumi Island Triton Square Tower Y in Tokyo Monday, June 21, 2021. The Tokyo Olympics will allow some local fans to attend when the games open in just over a month, Tokyo organizing committee officials and the IOC said on Monday. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
Tokyo Olympics to allow Japanese fans only, with strict limits

Organizers set a limit of 50% capacity — up to a maximum of 10,000 fans

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Most Read