Mayor’s Column – June 14, 2017

June 14, 2017

 

Imagine this scenario: you have two lightbulbs to change in your kitchen and only one stool. The bulbs are four feet apart and you, being of a practical bent, do not want to waste time moving the stool. The solution is a no-brainer. Place the stool securely at the midpoint and reach both directions. Can you also imagine your obit?

Although your kitchen is probably the most dangerous worksite you will ever have to brave, I don’t think this scenario works very well; we’ll have to imagine a different one. You are not that stupid.

How about this one? You’ve just completed a highly successful foray into the huckleberry patch, raided it with impunity, and escaped without appearing on the grizzly’s menu. Now that is something to place on your Facebook. But you just can’t stand the aroma of those fresh berries in the back seat so you pull off the road to sample a few. So far so good. Just as you nose back onto the highway an empty coal truck clips your left front, spins you around and comes to roost on your trunk lid spilling your loot all over the pavement. Someone else will have to put this one on Facebook.

Let’s try something a little more realistic: you are distracted just for an instant by the insistent shrilling of your mobile device and destroy your vehicle and mutilate your person really very badly. It is over in seconds but you are immobilized. Worse yet, you are on a little-traveled back-country road. Life is seeping out of you and you know you are in deep trouble. Your device is within reach, and happily intact, and you have enough energy to dial 911 and give your coordinates before you pass out.

All this brings us to my point for today.

Caring for the injured at the scene, saving the traumatized, transporting the broken body rapidly and safely to a care facility is high on the agendas of local government officials. We take seriously the need to ensure that the systems in place are working the way they are supposed to work. This is not to say that it is our responsibility to do the job but it is our responsibility as your representatives to keep informed on best practices and to question the responsible parties on their practices and performance.

A recent meeting with representatives of BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS)  and STARS, an Alberta-based agency that operates from north-eastern British Columbia, across Alberta, and into Saskatchewan specializing in helicopter transportation of sick and injured patients, helped to clarify a number of questions. It also revealed something of the complexity of these systems on which we depend and, perhaps, which we take for granted.

When your 911 call is received in Kamloops, assuming accurate information can be provided, five minutes will not elapse before helped is dispatched. Depending on the nature of the injury and the location of the incident, that help will come in the form of a BC Ambulance on wheels or, in some cases, as a STARS helicopter with full first-response medical capability.

The nature of the injury, the availability of beds, the availability of transportation, the weather, the location of the aircraft and its fuel range, will transfers be required and where will this happen all go into the mix when help is dispatched. Even the decision on the right receiving-care centre is not always straight-forward. But concern for your care is paramount.

Ultimately, the best and most effective link in the chain of care is with each one of us. Stay healthy, as far as is humanly possible, and avoid falling off the stool. It will save a lot of headaches.

 

Merlin Nichols, Mayor