Ombudsman report says air ambulance service is failing rural areas

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VICTORIA, B.C. — Forest safety ombudsman Roger Harris says injured workers in rural B.C. are waiting too long for air ambulance service, and he’s calling for improved standards and service.

His report says injured forest workers in remote and rural parts of the province often must wait hours for emergency air ambulance service even though hospitals are a short flight away.

His report released yesterday says it took five hours for a logger on Haida Gwaii whose leg was crushed in an accident to get to a hospital by boat and vehicle, when a helicopter flight would have just taken 20 minutes.

The report recommends the province introduce legislation that guarantees timely air ambulance responses to emergencies at rural work sites and communities.

His report says B.C. falls short when compared with other jurisdictions like Alaska and Washington states and it recommends that the province guarantee time limits for residents to get to health facilities.

The Forest Safety Ombudsman Office was established in 2006 to enhance safety in the forestry sector and investigate issues about policies, practices, and procedures within the industry.