In the Lake country of British Columbia, they are dealing with longer and longer wait times as ambulance call volume increases and the number ambulance services that are available decrease. One of the problems that they have has to do with the hybrid volunteer/paid system up there. So when someone’s not available to get out during the day, the response is delayed during the day because they are at work. When they have to call, in a local town, the larger city services drive out into the countryside and respond and so some people were waiting for urgent calls for 50 minutes for an ambulance.
Average 911 Wait Times
They do say in this article that their average wait time is still about 13 minutes for someone to get an ambulance. They average one call per day to 911. 13 minute average is not bad for a very rural area. The officials in the area are looking into how to solve this problem. They have paid on-call individuals to get some of these peripheral ambulances out. They only get paid if there’s an ambulance call and they only get one call a day on average so they are paid only when they get a call. Still that takes time to get responses out and depending on where people are and where the ambulances start from, this can be a problem.
This comes into play because of a recent spate of serious or urgent calls including an industrial accident and two heart attacks that occurred where the wait time was nearly an hour for each one. Getting an ambulance on the scene takes a while sometimes.
Neighbor Helping Neighbor EMS
One of the solutions they are looking at is encouraging neighbors to be more aware and watch out for their elderly neighbors. The authors cite that some of the problems of increased call volume and severity is related to the aging population. They urge that people should be very careful to help their neighbors out and be aware when an elderly neighbor needs assistance or hasn’t been seen for a few days.
Sometimes that can stave off the need for an ambulance call if you can get them to a primary care resource during the daytime rather than using emergent care resource. It’s a very interesting article and points out that here in the US we have similar issues. This happens all over the world as our population is aging across the world. That baby boom population continues to age and we’re going to have increased call volume.
Check out the links and full episode video and audio for this week’s episode – West Nile Virus Treatment and Episode 299.