‘It’s not going to work here’

‘It’s not going to work here’: Revelstoke mayor to meet province over ambulance changes

 There is a new system being introduced across the province called Scheduled On-Call (SOC)

The mayor of Revelstoke and the region’s MLA said they are concerned about possible changes to the local ambulance service.

“I’m not going to let it slide,” said Mayor Gary Sulz in a BOUNCE Radio interview on June 18.

“We’ve got to nip this in the butt.”

BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) is introducing a new system across the province for rural and remote stations — including Revelstoke — called Scheduled On-Call (SOC).

According to BCEHS, the changes will improve emergency response coverage and create a more stable paramedic workforce. Black Press Media spoke with paramedics in Revelstoke and across the province, who fear the changes could prove fatal with increased ambulance response times.

Under SOC, select stations including Revelstoke, Golden, Nakusp and Sicamous, might only be staffed eight hours per day. For the remaining 16 hours, paramedics will be on-call.

Revelstoke is expected to get the new system this fall.

Currently, there are paramedics around the clock at the Revelstoke station with a 90-second time limit to respond to calls.

Local paramedics warn the conversion to SOC could substantially increase response times up to 20 minutes, during the 16 hours when no one is at the station.

“That is sketchy,” said Sulz.

He said the province did not consult with Revelstoke on the new changes.

“It’s not going to work here.”

Ambulances in Revelstoke service a large area, including Rogers Pass, which can be a dangerous section of Highway 1 with relatively frequent fatal car crashes.

MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke Doug Clovechok has organized a meeting in the coming days between Health Minister Adrian Dix, Sulz and the mayor of Kimberly, a community that is in a similar situation to Revelstoke.

“I’m concerned,” said Clovechok.

The ministry of health said in an email to Black Press Media that the province is continuing to invest in emergency health services by hiring more paramedics and buying more ambulances.

The province said SOC will result in hiring hundreds of full time paramedics. According to BCEHS, there will be 500 new paramedic positions across the province.