New air ambulance ordered for Parksville after half-billion dollar investment by B.C. government

Ascent Helicopters out of Parksville was awarded a contract worth $544.4 million for six new air ambulances ordered by the provincial government for BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS). One will base out of the central Island, with the other five assigned elsewhere.

President of Ambulance Paramedics of B.C. Troy Clifford said this is a significant investment and was a long time coming.

“It went through a process, BCEHS, to really align the platforms…and strengthen our response capacities. It’s a large investment into the future of the BC Ambulance Service, and our ability to respond to patients and provide that care.”

The six new air ambulances will replace older aircraft with more sophisticated technology and life-saving equipment.

Clifford said it’s about being a more efficient operation.

That’ll reduce our out-of-hospital times and our response times because you won’t have to go to the harbour or airport or secondary locations, and that’s obviously going to improve our ability to do scene responses for situations.”

The new air ambulances are expected to serve in and around communities including Vancouver, Prince George, Prince Rupert, and Kamloops.

Clifford said they are excited to work with Parksville-based Ascent Helicopters, a change from the past providers, Summit Helicopters and Helijet.

“Based on my understanding from BCEHS, is this (has) aligned our dedicated air ambulance fleet with the next-generation aircraft. Renewal of contracts and transfer of previous helicopter contracts to one provider, and that’s the one out of Parksville, Ascent Helicopters.”

BCEHS said they are in the process of modernizing their rotary-wing air ambulance fleet, allowing them to improve the quality of service provided for years to come.

The contract was awarded on Feb. 11, 2023, and BCEHS said the new fleet is expected to be operational sometime between the fall of 2024 and the spring of 2025.

More details on the new sophisticated technology and improved safety standards will be released at a later date.

New air ambulance ordered for Parksville after half-billion dollar investment by B.C. government