The BC Ambulance Service on June 8 started their new ‘Autolaunch’ service, which simultaneously dispatches helicopter and ground paramedic crews to serious incidents.
The BCAS says the new system will shorten the time it takes to treat and transport patients to trauma centres, sometimes by several hours.
Here’s how it works: Based on information provided by 9-1-1 callers, dispatchers identify instances when an Autolaunch would likely be beneficial. A helicopter-based critical care team and a local ground ambulance are both dispatched. If the ground ambulance arrives first and decides the helicopter team is not needed, they can cancel the incoming helicopter and handle treatment and transport by road. If the helicopter is needed, the helicopter-based crew can treat and then transport the patient directly to a regional trauma centre hospital.
“Getting the right patients to the trauma centre that can best provide care for their injuries as quickly as possible is critical for those patients with major injuries,” said Dr. Stephen Wheeler, the medical director with the Emergency and Health Services Commission Critical Care Transport Program. “Reduced transport times to trauma centres results in better patient outcomes and reduced hospital stays and health care system costs.”
As of June 8, the Kamloops-based helicopter covers an area that includes Revelstoke. That coverage also includes Williams Lake to the north, the U.S. border to the south and Nakusp to the east.
Prior to June 8, trauma patients in the Revelstoke area were treated and transported by ground ambulance to the nearest local hospital. Once there, a physician would then request an ambulance transfer to a regional trauma centre if needed.
The Autolaunch program is already in place in several areas of B.C., including Vancouver Island, Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health, the East Kootenay and in the western portion of Northern B.C.