BC Emergency Health Services operates three separate, but integrated, dispatch operations centres in Vancouver, Victoria and Kamloops, which manage the receipt of all 911 calls and coordinate all responses to those calls. These fast-paced centres operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are the first point of contact for people requiring emergency pre-hospital care.
In 2019, new technology was implemented that enables our emergency medical call-takers to seamlessly answer and process 911 requests for service for any of the three dispatch centres, and the communities they serve.
Receives calls from and dispatches ambulances to over 30 communities as far east as Mission and Agassiz, south to Manning Park in the Fraser Canyon and north to Pemberton and Lillooet. On average, the centre responds to 900 emergency calls per day.
A part of Vancouver Dispatch Operations is the new Patient Transfer Coordination Centre (PTCC), which is a central coordination hub for all patient movements between dedicated hospital facilities for the entire province of BC. The PTCC coordinates approximately 350 requests for transport a day and is also responsible for coordinating and providing air and ground critical care transports. These transports are primarily within BC but can be international.
Provides service to all communities outside of the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, throughout the Interior and Northern BC. Covering one of the largest geographical areas in North America, Kamloops Dispatch Operations Centre receives an average of 500-600 calls a day and is responsible for dispatching ambulances to 98 communities throughout British Columbia.
Serving all of Vancouver Island, Powell River and the surrounding Gulf Islands, the Vancouver Island Dispatch Operations Centre in Langford receives on average 250-300 emergency calls per day.
BC Ambulance Service (BCAS) dispatch operations centres are staffed by emergency medical dispatchers (EMDs) and call takers (EMCTs); knowledgeable and highly trained professionals who work closely with partner agencies such as police, fire, search and rescue and coast guard to ensure that British Columbians have access to timely and effective care.
More than the calm and reassuring voice on the other end the phone, EMCTs and EMDs are the first point of contact in life-or-death situations, providing vital information to paramedic crews and hospitals. Directing Basic Life Support and Advanced Life Support ambulances, and air ambulances when needed, these dedicated professionals also communicate with first responders, search-and-rescue and police to ensure the right people and resources are on scene.
EMCTs and EMDs also provide emergency first aid advice to callers over the telephone, such as CPR instructions on cardiac arrests and critical information on the birth of children. These life-saving first aid instructions, provided while paramedics are en route to the scene, have a tremendous impact on patient outcomes in many cases.
When a call for help is received, emergency medical call takers (EMCTs) and emergency medical dispatchers (EMDs) use an internationally recognized medical priority dispatch system to quickly assess the severity of the patient’s condition and respond with the appropriate help.
Pre-hospital events are triaged similarly to how patient conditions are assessed in a hospital emergency room, with the most critical patients attended to first. The BC Ambulance Service prioritizes how ambulances are dispatched based on the caller’s description of the nature and extent of the medical condition or injury.
Approximately 70% of ambulance transports are conducted in a manner that does not require an emergency driving response.
An updated system for assigning paramedics, ambulances and other resources to 9-1-1 calls was introduced on May 30, 2018. The new Clinical Response Model (CRM) is aimed at more accurately matching resources to the needs of the patient.