British Columbia

Urban ambulance response times well below targets, B.C. auditor general says

An audit for the period running April 2016 to December 2017 says ambulances in urban areas reached their nine-minute response time target on 50 per cent of life-threatening calls, while responses in rural and remote areas achieved and exceeded the targets.

Responses met 9-minute target time in just 50% of calls for help in urban centres

Urban areas account for 86 per cent of B.C.'s life-threatening 911 calls, the auditor general says. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

B.C. Auditor General Carol Bellringer says emergency ambulance response times in the province's urban areas are well below their time targets.

In an audit on emergency health services, Bellringer says that missed response times in cities is significant because urban areas account for 86 per cent of B.C.'s life-threatening 911 calls.

Her report says when response-time targets are not met, patients may not be receiving care when they need it.

The audit, for the period running April 2016 to December 2017, says ambulances in urban areas reached their nine-minute response time target on 50 per cent of life-threatening calls, while responses in rural and remote areas achieved and exceeded the time targets.

B.C. Emergency Health Services has recently added more staff and introduced a new dispatch process, the report says, but data from 2018 indicates only a slight improvement in urban response times on calls, to 51 per cent.

Bellringer's report also calls for better co-ordination between ambulance services and fire departments, which often dispatch firefighters to emergency calls.

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