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SRD grants $45,000 to heli-rescue service

Regional district calling on nearby governments to make similar contributions
TEAAM Aeromedical President Miles Randall demonstrates how to load and unload patients from a helicopter in Campbell River on Nov. 4, 2021. Ronan O’Doherty/ Campbell River Mirror

The Technical Evacuation Advanced Aero Medical Society (TEAAM) will be receiving $45,000 to go towards capital costs and to help get the goal of a Campbell River-based location up and running thanks to the Strathcona Regional District.

The regional district approved a grant of $45,000 from its regional grant in aid fund on March 16, after TEAAM representatives Sean Smyth and Miles Randell made a presentation to the regional board about the project.

TEAAM is a heli-rescue service that aims to fill a gap in existing rescue and pre-hospital care in B.C.

“We literally bring the emergency room to the accident scene,” said Randell during the presentation to the SRD board.

The service does exist elsewhere in the province. TEAAM has bases in Squamish, Prince George and Fort St. John. While the service can reach Vancouver Island from Squamish, flight times mean that the fast response they are seeking is not as good as it could be. The Campbell River base would help extend the service to North Island communities, the Sunshine Coast and up to Bella Coola.

Randell and Smyth made their presentation to acquire some capital costs to help get the program up and running. So far, the Campbell River base has gotten a donation of $10,000 from industrial sources, and they are reaching out to local governments; starting with the Strathcona Regional District.

While most directors were in support of the project, some had a few questions about the project. Director Brenda Leigh said that she saw the project as healthcare and questioned why the province or health authority weren’t funding it.

“Traditionally, local government doesn’t provide medical care,” she said. “I have difficulty with taking on what… should be a provincially-funded service.”

Randell agreed with Leigh, saying that he wishes that provincial funding would happen, but that there was “just no appetite from government.”

While no other regional districts in the coverage area of this base have put forth the funds, Director Mark Baker said that it “would look really good on the SRD to take the lead on that.”

“This is crucial for rural communities and to save people’s lives,” he said.

After the presentation by Randell and Smyth, the board voted to put forth $45,000 for the project and to ask other regional districts to contribute similar amounts, depending on their population size.

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