With bases already in Squamish, Prince George and Fort St. John, TEAAM Aeromedical is billed as “Canada’s only advanced life support, critical care medically-directed rescue program.”
It puts doctors, nurses, paramedics, retired military and rescue personnel on helicopters responding to calls that BC Emergency Health Services or local Search and Rescue teams might not be able to answer.
“TEAAM is a group of paramedics and physicians dedicated to providing advanced life support (ALS) medical care in remote, difficult-to-access locations. Using hoist and long line (HETS) equipped helicopters, TEAAM can access patients in remote industrial sites, forestry operations, First Nations communities, and marine environments. Once on scene, TEAAM will provide cutting-edge, advanced medical care to allow for quick and safe extrication and transport of patients,” states the TEAAM website.
“We do patient care anywhere. We identified there was a huge gap in the pre-hospital care in British Columbia in remote settings beyond the reach of traditional ambulance services,” said TEAAM President Miles Randell. “We respond to remote logging sites, glaciers where adventure sport mountain guides might be, or remote communities where there’s no access for regular ambulance services.”
TEAAM, which stands for Technical Evacuation Advanced Aeromedical Society, is now setting up in Campbell River after identifying a need on northern Vancouver Island.
“We always have our medical rescue crew on standby during daylight hours, ready to respond within minutes of a call for assistance,” states the TEAAM website.
It is expected that 50 per cent of the 150 or so calls every year on Vancouver Island will come from industries like forestry.
“It’s a dangerous job, it’s a dangerous industry,” said Bill Nelson, Truck Loggers Association President. “We’re working hard all the time to reduce injuries and incidents but they do happen and when you’re remote that time that it takes to get to the hospital is key.”
Nathan Handel is the Campbell River base Assistant Manager for TEAAM and also a volunteer with Campbell River Search and Rescue.
He says both rescue organizations will serve different needs.
“Typically ground search and rescue will access the patient or subject and be able to transport them to a ground ambulance and handoff to patient care at that site as opposed to transporting the actual patient to definitive care,” he said.
TEAAM is a not-for-profit and receives no government funding. It exists on donations, memberships and insurance claims.
The medical professionals are paid for each call but otherwise volunteer their time.
TEAAM is now raising the $350,000 it needs to open the base in Campbell River.