Northern health bus route

Medical services have teamed up to provide north communities with a daily bus route to and from the hospital in Prince George.

  • Feb. 20, 2014 2:00 p.m.
The low acuity transfer bus has been operational since Jan. 20. It has two paramedics on duty and is equipped only for minimal medical support.

The low acuity transfer bus has been operational since Jan. 20. It has two paramedics on duty and is equipped only for minimal medical support.

Medical services have teamed up to provide north communities with a daily bus route to and from the hospital in Prince George.

The new BCAS Low Acuity Transfer bus will be staffed by two paramedics and will be able to take seven patients at a time. The service is meant for non-urgent situations where access to the University Hospital of Northern B.C. is inconvenient.

It runs five days a week and will pick patients up from Burns Lake to Prince George and then take them back the same day.

The previous system relied on one ambulance and two paramedics for each transfer. Those same ambulances have to respond to emergency calls which often resulted in the cancellation or delay of scheduled patient transfers.

Northern Health as well as the British Columbia Ambulance Service (BCAS) are working together to provide this service to residents from Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake, Fort St. James and the surrounding areas.

“We are very proud of this initiative with Northern Health because the dedicated service strengthens the care that paramedics, doctors and nurses provide to our patients,” said Mike Michalko, BCAS Rural Operations Executive Director in a press release. “The Low Acuity Transfer Bus will make it easier for patients to consistently attend regularly-scheduled appointments and keep our ambulances in their local communities so they are available for other medical emergencies.”

In 2012 and 2013, the BC Ambulance Service responded to over 504,000 emergency calls and patient transfers. Transfers from facility to facility make up approximately 20 per cent of all ambulance service transfers in B.C.

There have been 500 inter-facility transfers from Burns Lake, Fort St. James and Vanderhoof areas each year and the call volume rises consistently.