Because every second counts!
Why We Need HEROS.

Did you know...

Each year in BC close to 7,500 people die outside of hospitals of unnatural causes. Of that number, more than half of those patients have clinically-treatable conditions that would allow hundreds of those people to survive if they had received critical care medical treatment earlier or if their injury had occurred at or near an appropriate hospital emergency room.

At this time with the exception of Prince Rupert, all helicopter medical services in BC are done by casual helicopter hire with no guaranteed response time and limited medical support onboard the aircraft.

Trauma is the leading cause of death and hospitalization in BC for people aged one to 44. 75 per cent of all people who succumb to trauma-related conditions in northern BC die before they are brought to a hospital. The fatality rate is a staggering 82 per cent for residents of northwestern BC, as compared to 12 per cent in Greater Vancouver, where most people live close to emergency services.

The Fraser Health Authority estimates lost productivity, long-term care and rehabilitation of trauma-related injuries costs the British Columbians an estimated $2.8 billion per year. Injuries to workers result in the loss of more economically-productive years than heart disease and cancer combined.

There is no other area of modern medicine were such a small additional upfront investment can make such profound difference in terms of enhancing patient outcomes than the use of doctor-led, rapid response, primary care EMS helicopters. In fact, in countries where such systems are commonplace, there is hard proof their medical systems realize paybacks which are far greater than the initial cost.

Aboriginal Canadians, who often live in remote areas, have nearly a four times greater risk of suffering severe trauma than the non-Aboriginal population.

BC, with a land area of 940,000 square kilometers, is roughly the same size as Germany, France and Belgium combined. In some areas of the province, primary care ground ambulance response times can be measured in hours, not in life-saving minutes. It has long been recognized that BC’s extreme distances and challenging terrain requires the use of fixed aeromedical transport for inter-facility transport. However, rapid response, doctor-led, primary care EMS helicopter service is not being utilized in BC. Bringing a doctor to the patient would dramatically enhance best possible pre-hospital patient outcomes for all rural residents who live more than a 20-minute ambulance ride from a hospital.

Rapid response, EMS helicopters reach patients on average, three to five times faster in urban use than ground ambulances and hours faster in many cases, in rural use. Appropriately equipped EMS helicopters can reach urgent-needs patients in all terrain conditions, especially those far from main road.

More than 280,000 rapid response, primary care EMS helicopter missions are flown each year in Germany alone, all operated by non-profit service provider societies and all are led by doctors who have dual specialties (typically ER, anesthetists/surgeons, or ICU). The German system saves thousands of lives each year. Luxembourg, with a land area half the size of the Lower Mainland and a population of 450,000, has no less than five rapid-response air ambulance helicopters.

London's Air Ambulance doctor-led helicopter medical crews perform, on average, one open-heart surgery per month on clinically-dead patients, achieving an 18 per cent revival rate, comparable to the success rate of hospital operating room surgery.

Some air ambulance helicopters have the ability to carry a patient directly from Prince George or a rural accident scene to a Level 1 trauma centre in Vancouver or Edmonton, without the need for ground ambulance transportation. Depending on the type of helicopter used, a 600-kilometre trip from Prince George would take roughly two hours.

Unlike road ambulance transports, modern EMS helicopter transports do not induce transport trauma. EMS helicopters offer smoother rides than all fixed-wing air ambulance aircraft, virtually eliminating the risk of transport-induced trauma to seriously-injured patients.

The Prince George Hospital helipad, which was used regularly decades ago for delivering patients and to pick up emergency doctors to fly them to accident scenes, was decommissioned in 2000 to accommodate hospital expansion. To provide best possible patient outcomes, HEROS. will continue to press both Northern Health and UHNBC on the need to create new or reopen closed hospital helipads in the region.

In 2011, BC had 137 advanced life support paramedics and 56 critical care paramedics for 4.4 million residents and 940,000 square kilometres of area. Only 15 full-time ALS attendants and five critical care paramedics serve northern BC, all of whom are based in Prince George. By comparison, Alberta has more than 2,000 ALS paramedics servicing one million fewer residents and 300,000 sq km less territory and less-challenging topography. Alberta has a fleet of seven rapid-response, doctor-led EMS helicopters on call 24/7, averaging launch times of three minutes or less, and has had that service since 1986.

BC Emergency Health Services estimates lost productivity, long-term care and rehabilitation of trauma-related injuries costs British Columbians an estimated $5 billion per year, the third largest cost contributor to the BC health care system. Injuries to workers result in the loss of more economically-productive years than heart disease and cancer combined.