B.C. Emergency Health Services bike paramedics Ryan Dear (left) and Jay Gargus start off a shift in Victoria’s downtown on July 25. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)

Bike paramedics proves successful in Victoria’s downtown: says health services

Numbers show initiative reduces need for ambulance transport

An initiative that brought bike paramedics to Victoria’s downtown two years ago has been proving successful, according to B.C. Emergency Health Services.

The initiative, launched as a trial in 2017 in response to the opioid crisis, sees a pair of paramedics on bikes patrol downtown for eight hours a day, seven days week, from May to October. Assessing the initiative’s effectiveness against the opioid crisis is, of course, difficult — a number of factors play in to the opioid crisis in B.C. — but numbers from the health service still point to the program working successfully.

Last year, for example, 142 ambulance calls in Victoria were cancelled due to on-scene bike paramedic care.

“Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell what’s going on through a telephone, with a dispatcher, but the bikes are able to quickly get eyes on a situation and, in a lot of cases, take care of that situation themselves, eliminating the need for other emergency vehicles to come into the core,” Tyrone Trotter, a paramedic supervisor with B.C.E.H.S., said.

The response from the bike paramedics, then, may allow an ambulance to be freed up for another emergency in the Capital Regional District or for the ambulance crew to downgrade their response from emergency to routine — meaning a response without emergency lights or sirens.

READ ALSO: Over 200 lives saved in first year at Victoria’s supervised consumption site

READ ALSO: Special Report: Greater Victoria ambulance crews run off their feet with overdose calls

According to B.C.E.H.S., bike paramedics responded to nearly 700 calls and assessed 560 patients in 2018, with a third of the patients not requiring transport to hospital. The paramedics’ responses also allowed ambulance crews to downgrade 170 responses, that same year.

The bikes allow paramedics to better maneuver through crowds and small spaces, which, sometimes, ensures a response faster than the one of an ambulance battling downtown traffic. The bikes also, according to Trotter, allow for increased community engagement.

“We certainly weren’t able to predict the amount of community engagement the bike squad would have, being at the street level,” he said. “In an ambulance, when you’re stopped at a traffic light downtown or driving around, you don’t get to have the level of conversation that we’ve found paramedics have on bikes.”

That engagement, he said, allows for “an extra set of eyes for situations as they develop” — which can include potential overdoses.

Victoria, according to the health service, consistently records the third highest rate of overdose calls in B.C., behind Vancouver and Surrey. The city saw 1,531 overdose calls in 2018, 1,398 calls in 2017 and 1,149 calls in 2016.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

UPDATE: Father on trial for murder describes being ‘tackled’ and ‘stabbed’ in Oak Bay apartment

Oak Bay father takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

Province rejects criticism from Saanich councillor over McKenzie Interchange

Transportation ministry says project will ‘significantly lower’ greenhouse gas emissions

Four sections of Saanich roads now have anti-skid treatments

Specialized aggregate and resin treatment reduces skidding and helps vehicles stop

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

POLL: Should there be a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers?

We’ve all heard them, and most likely cursed them under our breath.… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Aug. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

Most Read