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Ambulance calls are up amid B.C.'s second extreme heat wave of the summer

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With B.C. dealing with another heat wave and some of the worst air quality in the world, 911 call volume is already up for paramedics this weekend.

“We’ve seen the heat, the humidity, but we’ve also seen the smoke so that brings in those respiratory calls. People that have shortness of breath, cardiac issues or just the more vulnerable patients who are sensitive to the smoke. It’s all things that are going to add to our call volume this weekend,” said Troy Clifford, president of Ambulance Paramedics and Dispatchers of B.C.

So far in August, paramedics have responded to 47 heat-related calls, according to B.C. Emergency Health Services. Twelve calls were recorded on Thursday. In June, when B.C. experienced the record-breaking heat dome, there were 829 calls to paramedics and 570 deaths. The B.C. Coroner’s Service says it’s too soon to determine if the current heatwave has led to any deaths.

Since B.C.’s historic heat dome, BC Ambulance has implemented new measures to deal with staffing shortages. Eighty-five paramedic positions were recently posted, primarily in the Lower Mainland. Thirty dispatchers were also added in three communication centres.

“It isn’t a lot. It doesn’t address what we need. But it still adds a number of ambulances to the Lower Mainland,” said Clifford.

With the heat wave expected to last until Sunday morning, Clifford is reminding everyone to check on the elderly, your neighbours and anyone who may be vulnerable in this type of weather.  

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