Why Kamloops is getting more new ambulances than larger Kelowna | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Why Kamloops is getting more new ambulances than larger Kelowna

Per capita calls for ambulances greatest in Pencticton
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/B.C. Emergency Health Services
January 02, 2019 - 6:30 PM

People in Penticton like to call for ambulances. Not so much in Kamloops.

Based on population and ambulance call volumes, Penticton residents called for ambulances 0.175 times per person in 2017 versus 0.133 per person in Kamloops.

That’s just one of the facts that can be gleaned from statistics provided to iNFOnews.ca by B.C. Emergency Health Services during discussions about changes to the way ambulances and fire trucks are being assigned to emergency medical calls.

B.C.’s ambulance service is the largest in Canada, since it’s the only one covering an entire province. It fields about 1,400 calls per day. Both Kamloops and Kelowna have 70 full and part-time paramedics. Despite the fact that Kelowna has a much larger population (127,300 vs 92,317), Kamloops is getting 18 more full-time paramedics by January while only 16 are going to Kelowna.

Seems imbalanced? Maybe not.

“Decisions about staffing are typically based on call volumes, rather than population size,” Shannon Miller, Communications Officer for the health service wrote in an email.

Kelowna has about 8,000 more calls a year than Kamloops (19,847 in 2017 versus 12,243 for Kamloops) but that also isn't a deciding factor.

“The other factor in staffing is inter-facility transfers," Miller also wrote. “Kamloops has a high volume of hospital transfers from Royal Inland Hospital that take emergency vehicles out of the community. (Including patient transfers to Kelowna General Hospital)," she said. 

So, we can’t just go by simple math since there are multiple factors affecting where and when ambulances are needed.

Here are some numbers:

Population of Thompson-Okanagan’s five largest cities
(based on B.C. government population estimates for 2017)

Kelowna: 127,330
Kamloops: 92,317
Vernon: 42,199
Penticton: 34,935
West Kelowna: 33,590

Ambulance Call Volumes by city 2017

Kelowna: 19,847
Kamloops: 12,243
Penticton: 6,111
West Kelowna: 4,550

Calls per capita

Kamloops: (0.133)
West Kelowna: (0.135)
Kelowna: (0.156)
Vernon: (0.171)
Penticton (0.175)

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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