BC Ambulance Service used the overflow parking lot between Superstore and the Washington Inn Apartments as the transfer point for the medical evacuation of two trauma patients involved in a motor vehicle collision in Courtenay on Thursday, Feb. 15. Photo by Terry Farrell

Air ambulance used parking lot for patient transfer because it was most efficient option

Lack of certification for helipad at Comox Valley Hospital not a factor in decision

BC Ambulance Service used the gravel parking lot between Superstore and the Washington Inn Apartments as a transfer area for the medical evacuation of trauma patients from Thursday’s car collision in Courtenay, because that was the most efficient option.

Fatima Siddiqui, media relations for BC Ambulance Service, said when it comes to medical emergencies, the air ambulances will land in the most practical, convenient, and closest spot available – be that an airport, highway, football field, or, as was the case Thursday, an overflow parking lot.

“Ultimately, the pilots will decide where they land,” said Siddiqui. “In this scenario, we had local first responders on the ground that … let us know that the area where we did land was safe for both helicopters to land, so that’s why that was chosen.”

Speculation that the parking lot was used because the helipad at the new North Island Hospital Comox Valley Campus is not yet certified by Transport Canada is misguided, said Siddiqui. She pointed out that when it comes to emergency medical evacuations, certified landing pads are not required.

“It [certification] actually has nothing to do with our decision about where to land. That’s just not necessarily part of the protocol, to [use hospital facilities] where we would not be taking the patient anyway.

“Last week we used a football field. We’ve landed on Highway 1, in Langley, where there are hospitals with certified landing pads. It’s very common for us to just land wherever we are told there is space for our helicopters.”

Siddiqui said the call for two air ambulances was made by crew at the scene of the crash.

“When we have an incident with multiple patients, our triage system allows us to determine what the condition of the patients are. When we have [multiple] patients in critical conditions, we tend not to double up, in terms of putting patients into the same [air] ambulance. In this instance we provided two different ambulances.”

BC Ambulance Service has a fleet of four regular, full-time air ambulances, as well as contracts with carriers throughout the province.

Both helicopters used in Thursday’s transport were from the regular fleet.

Just Posted

North Island College launches Aboriginal College Pathway in Port Alberni

Aboriginal students will have a new, supportive start to their education this fall

New fire reported near North Taylor Arm in Alberni Valley

Number of human-caused fires a “concern”

Port Alberni RCMP looking for owners of stolen vehicle rims

Owners will be required to identify their property

UPDATE: 5 injured in plane crash following Abbotsford International Airshow

One in critical condition in incident involving vintage plane

Fires continue to burn in the Alberni Valley

BC Wildfire Service has trouble with wind

More than 2,000 music fans attend Port Alberni’s Five Acre Shaker

Music festival at McLean Mill went off “without a hitch”

VIDEO: Y2K Spitfire arrives in Comox

Pilot Dave Hadfield flew the warbird while local legend, Stocky Edwards, marshalled him in

Child dies in boating incident in Okanagan

A North Vancouver family was boating on Kalamalka Lake in Vernon when the incident occured

B.C. Wildfires 2018: Province calls for federal aid

More fires have burned in B.C. already this year than did in all of 2017

Kayak in Indian Arm waters off B.C.’s Deep Cove and feast on famous doughnuts

About a half hour drive from Vancouver, Deep Cove is a great kayaking spot for locals and tourists

Smokey skies across Vancouver Island expected to last until Wednesday

The province of B.C. has issued a special bulletin for all of Vancouver Island

Child, 4, attacked by cougar near Fernie

The BC Conservation Officer Service said it happened while the family was fishing

Trans Mountain pipeline protesters practise resisting police at Camp Cloud

Last week, a Supreme Court judge granted the City of Burnaby an injunction ordering protesters to remove everything from the site

Gun used in Fredericton killings is legal, man had licence

Police Chief Leanne Fitch said the long gun is commonly available for purchase, and is not a prohibited or restricted weapon

Most Read