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Firefighters worry about waits for routine ambulance calls

BURNABY (NEWS1130) – Changes to how paramedics respond to certain calls have led to longer waits for ambulances. But the BC Ambulance Service insists it’s not a problem for patient care.

The organization has reduced the number of times it rushes with its lights and sirens to a medical problem. Since the change was made, the Burnaby Fire Department has noticed ambulances are arriving, on average, three minutes later.

“I know other agencies have had longer wait times, but we have had waits of half an hour [to an] hour, and I believe there was a wait time last week of over two hours,” says Chief Doug McDonald.

He says those waits are keeping firefighters longer on scene. “When we get a call and we respond Code 3… We get there, [and] the ambulance is not responding Code 3. So our wait times and the patient’s wait times are extended.”

But the BC Ambulance Service says it has found ambulances are getting to urgent calls faster; it also maintains longer waits for routine calls are not affecting patients’ conditions.