British Columbia

Squamish paramedics want to add to B.C.'s air ambulance toolbox

The president of the proposed new air ambulance service says in some cases, they could perform a rescue that would take road vehicles hours in just minutes.

TEAAM fundraising $2.5 million to maintain 2 on-call helicopters and aircrews

TEAAM president Miles Randell's crew members have spent some time practising hoist-based rescue operations. (

A group of paramedics and medical professionals in Squamish, B.C., plan to use helicopters to provide urgent care in a new way.

TEAAM — Technical Evacuation Advanced Aero Medical — is a new non-profit society that wants to use hoists to reach patients in remote settings, like work camps, to extract them and bring them to hospital faster than via road vehicle or traditional air evacuation.

"We've all been in emergency medicine in various degrees as paramedics and physicians, and we've identified this hole in pre-hospital care in British Columbia," TEAAM president Miles Randell told On The Coast guest host Gloria Macarenko.

He says the difference between TEAAM and B.C. Ambulance air crews is that the latter need to set their helicopters down before they can send paramedics out or bring a patient back to hospital. If there's nowhere to land, they can't provide aid.

B.C. Emergency Health Services clarified that while their own helicopters need to land, they do sometimes bring in hoist-equipped helicopters from search and rescue groups.

Costs of emergency care

Randell says in some cases, his proposed service would be able to perform a rescue  in just minutes that would take road vehicles hours to complete.

Randell is currently fundraising $2.5 million, largely from industry, to maintain two on-call helicopters and aircrews.

But he says that's not as much money as it sounds, and cited a 2014 case as an example, where a worker at a remote work site broke his leg.

"He unfortunately took over 12 hours to get to a hospital and lost his leg, which is a tragic circumstance for him and it's also incredibly expensive to the health care system and to WorkSafe," he said.

"That one incident … cost the system $1.4 million. So if we make a difference in two people's lives every year, our program is already paid for."

Randell says TEAAM plans to launch by the end of August.

Listen to the full interview:

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast