In an effort to strengthen British Columbia’s ambulance system, the provincial government has announced funding for over 100 new responders and additional resources, as well as restructured the BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) board of directors.
The announcement was made on Wednesday afternoon by Health Minister Adrian Dix, who said that this move will allow the board to “focus solely on ambulance services.”
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“When we call for help, we need to know help is on the way and that it will arrive quickly,” he said.
“Immediate action on operations, as well as stronger leadership and increased investment at BC Emergency Health Services, will deliver a more effective ambulance service for patients and families who depend on it.”
In order to reinforce ambulance operations, Dix also said that BC would provide funding for the following resources, which includes over 100 new responders:
- 85 new full-time paramedics
- 30 full-time dispatchers
- 22 new ambulances
The provincial government will also restructure 22 rural ambulance stations to 24/7 ALPHA stations, which will improve ambulance coverage in rural communities.
Health authorities have also been directed to add additional staff to emergency departments, which will help receive patients and provide care for them.
To better support health workers, the BCEHS has also been directed to put together a team of mental health and wellness professionals who will work directly with dispatch staff and paramedics.
The restructuring also includes the appointment of Jim Chu, former chief constable of the Vancouver Police Department (VPD), to chair the board.
Additionally, Dix announced that a Chief Ambulance Officer will now be responsible for the day-to-day management of BC’s Ambulance Service. Leanne Heppell, who currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Acute Care and Chief of Professional Practice and Nursing at Providence Health Care, has been appointed on an interim basis.
Telus President and CEO Darren Entwistle will also serve as a special advisor for the board.