VICTORIA – British Columbia’s health minister says the province is overhauling the ambulance service to reduce wait times after complaints about long delays during medical emergencies.
Adrian Dix says calls increased during a recent record-breaking heat wave, but paramedics were already under pressure from the overdose crisis.
He says stronger leadership at BC Emergency Health Services will include the appointment of former Vancouver police chief Jim Chu as chair of the board, and Leanne Heppell as the new chief ambulance officer.
Dix says Heppell is a clinical nurse specialist with 20 years’ experience in senior leadership at Vancouver Coastal Health and the BC Ambulance Service.
He says a “new standard” will be set to improve service for patients and families along with greater support for employees, including in rural communities where more permanent full-time and part-time jobs will be offered to replace casual positions.
Calls for ambulance service increased dramatically during the heat wave starting in late June, and B.C’s chief coroner has said 486 sudden or unexplained deaths were recorded, a 195 per cent jump in the average normally seen during a five-day period.