Mid Island Pacific Rim MLA candidates have been called upon to improve Bamfield area emergency health services.
According to a press release, in 2014, the Bamfield Health Centre lost its helipad due to the failure of Island Health to meet regulatory requirements. Response times have increased and provincial agencies have not improved service levels over the last nearly three years.
“The response time for critical care patients has increased because the helicopter doesn’t land at the health centre anymore so we have to transport the patient to another location where the helicopter lands and that’s been a real challenge,” said Keith Wyton, area ACRD director. “With a new government coming, it’s a good opportunity to bring [this issue] forward to the candidates so they can consider it,”
The landing pad hasn’t been operational since August 2015. Patients who need air ambulance transport need to be taken to a privately-owned airstrip about 1.5 kilometres from the Bamfield Health Centre. Distance to the airstrip is passable by ambulance or regular small car.
“One of the solutions was to send an ambulance from Port Alberni to pick the patient up at the health centre and transport them to the helicopter, but that’s not really suitable in a sense that it takes about two hours to get there from Port Alberni,” Wyton said. “The helicopter, historically, has arrived in Bamfield within an hour of getting a call for a critical care patient.”
Wyton said there needs to be commitment from higher levels of government to improve the rural community’s trauma services.
“One of the things we’ve asked for is to have an ambulance station in Bamfield,” he said. “I believe that’s a forward looking and important consideration. There are communities in the province that are no larger than Bamfield and have a similar service.”
With the recent Huu-ay-aht First Nations’ investments to the Bamfield area, recent community expansion and tourism investment, Wyton said it is important to make sure people are well looked after and get the kind of services that “should be available to everyone in the province.”
“Scott Fraser [current Mid Island Pacific Rim MLA] has been supportive on the issue through the last couple of years. He has written letters and he has spoken about it to the government,” Wyton said. “We haven’t made the kind of progress that really solves the issue for us since we lost the helicopter pad at the health centre, so we’re just continuing to advocate for this service for the community.”