Air ambulance service changes in Bamfield

Island Health is looking into finding a new helicopter landing area after their former one was deemed unfit by Transport Canada in Aug. 2015

Patients needing air ambulance service at the Bamfield Health Centre must currently wait for an ambulance from Port Alberni to transport them to an air strip 1.5km away.

The Island Health Authority has hired a consultant to find a better way to offer air ambulance service to Bamfield, after the helicopter landing pad  at the Bamfield Health Centre was shut down last August.

The landing pad hasn’t been operational since August 2015, according to Island Health manager of regional communications for the north and central Island Valerie Wilson.

“The Bamfield Health Centre helicopter landing area doesn’t meet Transport Canada regulations,” said Wilson. The landing area is owned and was operated by Island Health.

However, B.C. Emergency Health Service communications officer Fatima Siddiqui said that BCEHS will still offer air ambulance service to Bamfield.

“BCEHS did not cancel any air ambulance services to the region,” said Siddiqui.

“Patients who need air ambulance transport need to be taken to a privately-owned airstrip about 1.5 kilometres from the Bamfield Health Centre. From there, the helicopter air ambulance will be able to land and take the patient wherever they need to go.”

According to Siddiqui, “The location where helicopters have historically landed at the Bamfield Health Centre has never been registered as a helipad.”

The 1.5 kilometre distance to the airstrip is passable by ambulance or regular small car. Siddiqui added.

However, the Bamfield Health Centre doesn’t have its own ambulance. Instead, ambulances must come from Port Alberni along the approximately 85-km long Bamfield Main logging road, which can at times be in poor condition.

Wilson said that Island Health has hired a consultant to review their options and that the report is due back in early March.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

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