RDN renews ambulance contract for Descanso wharf

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Wednesday, February 11 2015

The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) has renewed the contract with the BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) for the use of the emergency wharf in Descanso Bay by Gabriola ambulance staff. The contract between the RDN and BCEHS ended on December 31, 2014, but crews from Gabriola continued to use the dock while waiting for a renewal.

The new contract covers two five-year terms starting January 1, 2015, with each period needing to be agreed upon by both parties.

The wharf opened in 2005 to allow ambulance staff to more easily load patients onboard the Nanaimo Harbour Patrol response vessel when the Gabriola ferry is not operating.

It is also used by BC Ferries for passenger-only service required when the main ferry is temporarily out of service.

The RDN has an annual budget of $5,798 for the wharf.

Preet Grewal with BCEHS communications said that typically, an ambulance crew from Nanaimo board the Harbour Patrol vessel in Nanaimo and come over to Gabriola, where the patient is loaded onto the vessel and the Gabriola ambulance staff stay on the island.

She said that in 2014, a total of 28 calls required the assistance of the Nanaimo Port Authority vessel in transporting a patient from Gabriola Island. 

On average, the cost to the BC Ambulance Service is between $734-784 per trip.  Grewel added that the cost to British Columbians with a Medical Services Plan (MSP) who require ambulance transport via ground or air, with or without the assistance of an additional or delayed BC Ferries sailing, is subsidized at $80. Those Gabriolans who are members of the Gabriola Ambulance Society - which is not affiliated with the BC Ambulance Service on Gabriola - have their ambulance fees for calls originating on Gabriola covered by the Society.  Approximately 25 per cent of Gabriolans are members of the Society. 

An annual membership per household is $35 (plus $5 per each additional family member beyond an initial five). More info at gabriolaambulancesociety.org