Support of the Recommendations from the BC Forest Safety Ombudsman’s Report on Helicopter Emergency Medical Services in BC



NCLGA Executive Recommendation: Endorse


WHEREAS the resource sector is the corner stone of the economies for most rural communities and modern health care is crucial to attracting new investment, a workforce, and securing quality of life for rural residents;

AND WHEREAS the BC Forest Safety Ombudsman’s report on Helicopter Emergency Medical Services has identified that rural communities are negatively affected by an inadequate emergency transportation system:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the NCLGA lobby the Provincial Government to adopt the BC Forest Safety Ombudsman recommendations on “Helicopter Emergency Medical Services” including mandating a legislated one-hour timeline for every resident of the Province to have access to Trauma 3 Level of care.


In February 2017, the BC Forest Safety Ombudsman released a report which examined access to appropriate emergency medical care for residents of rural BC.  The report focused on timely access to trauma services for forestry workers in Northern British Columbia.  The Northern Health service area is the only service area in BC without a Level 1 or Level 2 Trauma Centre.  The report outlined the long wait times for trauma care for those injured in Northern BC.  Transportation from the scene of an accident to a medical facility can take an unacceptably long period of time from this region. 75% of people in Northwestern BC who die of trauma-related injuries pass away before they reach the hospital.  This is six times higher than in Metro Vancouver.  In other jurisdictions such as Washington State and Alaska, legislation and/or resources are in place to ensure that residents can access trauma services within 60 minutes of an accident.

All British Columbians are entitled to health care services.  There is a double standard when it comes to trauma care for rural and northern residents.  Rural and remote communities have higher rates of injury from motor vehicle crashes, suicide, and higher occupational injury rates.  Higher injury mortality rates exist in rural and remote communities, a fact which has been attributed to a number of factors including access to emergency medical services and transportation options.  The Forest Safety Ombudsman recommends the Provincial Government mandate guaranteed timelines for residents to access Level 3 Trauma Care within a reasonable period of time.

BC Forest Safety Ombudsman Review. Will It Be There? A report on Helicopter Emergency Medical Services in BC, 2017

Trauma Services BC 2015 Annual Report

Auditor General of British Columbia, Striving for Quality, Timely and Safe Patient Care: An Audit of Air Ambulance Services in BC

Simons, Richard, Brasher, Penelope, Taulu, Tracey, Lakha, Nasira, Molnar, Nadine, Caron, Nadine, Schuurman, Nadine, Evens, David, and Hameed, Morad. A Population-Based Analysis of Injury-Related Deaths and Access to Trauma Care in Rural-Remote Northwest British Columbia, 2010


UBCM Comments:

The UBCM membership has not previously considered a resolution calling on the provincial government to adopt recommendations from the BC Forest Safety Ombudsman regarding helicopter emergency medical services, including a legislated one-hour timeline for every BC resident to be able to access a Trauma 3 level of care.

However, UBCM members endorsed resolutions 2013-B44, 2007-B157 and 1998-B98, all calling for improvements to air medical access and air ambulance services for all British Columbians.

In response to resolution 2013-B44, BC Ambulance Service (BCAS) stated that 24-hour air ambulance services are available from bases in Prince George, Prince Rupert, Kamloops, Kelowna, and Vancouver; and that it would use private air carriers, Alberta Health Services, Government of the Yukon, Royal Canadian Air Force, and Canadian Coast Guard aircraft as necessary. BCAS emphasized that the air ambulance model “best able to provide timely, specialized care for patients in northern BC and … isolated communities is via fixed-wing aircraft,” and referenced the Early Fixed-Wing Activation Program it adopted in 2012.

North Central Local Government Association