B.C. to outline changes to the service following deadly heatwave

B.C. set to outline changes to ambulance service following deadly heatwave

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — More details are coming Wednesday about changes being made to the ambulance service in B.C. follow overwhelming wait times during the recent deadly heatwave.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says government priorities are clear.

“I expect from B.C. Emergency Health Services, 1: when people need an ambulance and call 911 an ambulance should get there. And 2: that we should be an outstanding employer.”

Many paramedics — past and present — are calling for an overhaul of emergency health services.

Criticisms were made after 911 calls went unanswered, and hundreds died during the intense heatwave from June 25 to July 1.

In May, Emergency Health services announced 500 staff would be added. And Dix says there will be 50% permanent staff up — from 36 per cent when he took office.

Dix has been a minister since 2017.

The BC Coroner is investigating if first responder challenges played a role in any of the 719 deaths reported during the heatwave.

“I’ll be making an announcement tomorrow with respect to some changes of the ambulance service but I will say this – are we going to move from an on-call system to a system of full-time and part-time permanent staff — that’s what we’ve been doing.”