Home Business & Economy Emergency Management BC health-care system accepting NWT evacuees

BC health-care system accepting NWT evacuees

Incoming patients from NWT will be triaged at Vancouver International Airport.

nwt, evacuation, wildfire
Methodical evacuation of Yellowknife (capital city of the Northwest Territories) due to wildfire, Aug 16, 2023. [Reuters]
 GROWING NATURAL FOOD IN URBAN SPACES

Thursday August 17, 2023 | VICTORIA, BC [Last update: 1:25 pm]

by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. | Island Social Trends


BC Wildfire Service and various government ministries are preparing for extreme fire behaviour due to potential dry lightning and strong winds. People are urged to be prepared for evacuations and follow all regional fire prohibitions.

This week’s wildfire and extreme weather emergency update was delivered today from Vancouver, led by Forests Minister Bruce Ralston along with Emergency Management and Climate Readiness Minister Bowinn Ma. Also participating was Health Minister Adrian Dix.

adrian dix, health minister, campbell river
File: BC Health Minister Adrian Dix at long-term care announcement in Campbell River, July 19, 2023. [BC livestream]

Wildfire evacuees from Northwest Territories:

Two days ago, the entire population of Yellowknife (the capital city of Northwest Territories, about 20,000 people) was ordered to evacuate due to an approaching wildfire which is expected to reach the edge of the city by this weekend.

A methodical evacuation (phased approach based on level of risk) by road and air has been underway. Most evacuees will end up in Alberta, but also some in northern BC.

This week BC has been preparing for potential participation,working closely with staff in Northwest Territories. There was some similar experience for the BC health-care and emergency management system in 2021 when more than 300 patients were transferred to metro Vancouver from Interior Health overnight by aircraft.

Dix added: “It goes without saying that we support other jurisdictions” in the context that health-care is a national Canadian priority.

Hospital patients and long-term care residents:

nwt, evacuation, wildfire
Methodical evacuation of Yellowknife (capital city of the Northwest Territories) due to wildfire, Aug 16, 2023. [Reuters]

Today Health Minister Adrian Dix said that about high-need 55 people in total — hospital patients (33) and long-term care residents (22) — will be arriving at the Vancouver International Airport, for redirection to hospitals and care facilities in BC. He notes the impact on health-care workers and facilities, as well as the patients.

Pediatric and pre- and post-surgical patients are part of the hospital mix.

He said that number “may increase”. When they arrive depends on the flights being organized with Canadian Armed Forces. Arrival could be today or overnight into tomorrow, he outlined to media.

prepare for heat

Dix said that incoming patients will be triaged at a BC Health operations centre at the airport. Most patient intake will be in Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health and Providence Health. “Hospital staff have already been through the patient charts to assign people,” said Dix. Most of the long-term care patients will go to Mt St Joseph’s where space is available.

Emergency Management BC is organizing patient transport.

Current health-care system load:

Currently there are about 9,400 and 9,700 patients in acute care hospitals this week, depending on the day. Every week about 10,000 patients are received into the system.

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