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Emergency Management BC

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BC Heat Alert and Response System

The criteria for the BC Heat Alert and Response System are as follows:

  • Heat warning:
    • Two or more consecutive days in which daytime maximum temperatures are expected to reach or exceed regional temperature thresholds and nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to be above regional temperature thresholds
    • A moderate increase in public health risk
  • Extreme heat emergency:
    • Heat warning criteria have been met and daytime maximum temperatures are expected to substantively increase day over day for three or more consecutive days
    • A very high increase in public health risk

Regional temperature thresholds are as follows:

Heat warnings are expected one to three times per summer.

Extreme heat emergencies are expected once or twice a decade.

Consultation about further improving the system will continue with communities and stakeholders throughout 2022.

Government actions to strengthen B.C.’s ambulance system response to extreme events

BC Emergency Health Services has developed a new Clinical Safety Plan with four levels of escalation and predetermined actions to respond to system pressure and patient need including:

  • Increasing capacity
    • Redirect staff to improve dispatch and/or ambulance response times.
    • Reduce turnaround times at key hospitals.
    • Increase the use of alternate care pathways and transport options.
  • Reducing demand
    • Increase secondary triage to divert low-acuity calls from the 911 queue and save ambulance and paramedic resources for urgent calls.
    • Delay or temporarily stop low-acuity interfacility transfers.
    • In extreme cases, seek approval for no-send protocols on low-acuity categories of call.
  • Reducing clinical/patient risk
    • Mobilize non-frontline clinicians.
    • Reassess unassigned events.
    • Reprioritize events to ensure the most critical are responded to.

In addition, government took the following actions:

  • Created 125 new full-time paramedic positions in urban areas (85 were operational in 2021 and 40 were operational in 2022)
  • Created 42 new full-time dispatcher positions
  • Added 22 new ambulances, nine of which are in service (two in Prince George and one in each of the following communities: Coquitlam, Burnaby, Surrey, Richmond, Langley, Abbotsford, Kamloops). The remaining 13 are expected to be in service by the end of 2022.
  • Converted 24 ambulance stations from on-call paramedic staffing to 24/7 stations to enhance ambulance coverage for these communities
  • Added more positions to 26 smaller stations where the scheduled on-call staffing model was introduced to provide more permanent, regular paramedic jobs
  • Created further permanent regular positions across the province, improving ambulance service availability
  • Is working to expand the care that paramedics and first responders can provide to patients on scene.
  • Reconstituted the BCEHS board to focus solely on ambulance services
  • Appointed a new chief ambulance officer responsible for the day-to-day management of the BC Ambulance Service and a newly created executive director of business operations and support
  • Increased spending on BC Emergency Health Services from an average of $424,254,000 per year in 2017 to $559,141,000 per year today, a 31.8% increase.