BC Ambulance Service defended

Dear editor,

The recent anonymous letter from a paramedic contained unsubstantiated claims that I’d like to respond to.

Dear editor,

The recent anonymous letter published from a paramedic in this paper (Record, March 4) contained a number of unsubstantiated claims that I’d like to respond to provide a balanced perspective.

I want to assure readers that BC Ambulance Service (BCAS) is committed to providing high-quality, timely and safe emergency medical services for patients throughout B.C.

In 2010, the provincial government announced that BCAS would become officially part of the health care sector, aligned with the Provincial Health Services Authority.

As a result, many initiatives have been undertaken in recent years to improve patient care including developing robust patient care quality and safety systems, formalized procedures to address patient care concerns, enhanced medical oversight for paramedics and an organization-wide accreditation process.

The provincial government has invested significantly in ambulance services. The BCAS budget has risen 111 per cent in the past 11 years — from $148 million in 2001/02 to $312 million in 2012/13.

Since 2001/02, BCAS has added a net 65 ambulances and 34 support vehicles to the service, bringing the fleet to 500 ambulances and 62 support vehicles across the province in 2012/13.

In Courtenay, the volume of 911 calls rose seven per cent between 2010/11 and 2012/13, but our response times improved by four per cent. Similarly, in Comox, there was a 20-per-cent increase in 911 calls, but our response times have improved by 10 per cent over the same period.

Paramedics and dispatchers play an important, valuable role within the provincial health care system and their commitment and dedication is appreciated by patients, colleagues, partners and BCAS.

Compared to 10 years ago, we have more ambulances, more paramedics, more support vehicles, and more aircraft to provide patients with emergency medical care and transport.

Providing pre-hospital emergency medical services that meet the needs of patients and communities throughout the province is extremely important and BCAS will continue to work to improve service.

Peter Thorpe

Editor’s note: Peter Thorpe is the interim chief operating officer of the BC Ambulance Service.