The rest of the story

Monday’s Lakeland sawmill tragedy provides evidence that British Columbia’s hospitals are routinely stressed to the breaking point and incapable of responding adequately to a major emergency.

Monday’s sawmill fire resulted in 24 casualties. Six were hospitalized in Prince George and 13 were treated and released. Four others were airlifted to intensive care units in Vancouver, Victoria and Edmonton.

That health authorities were forced to transport seriously injured people to three separate facilities, each about 700 km from the accident scene, indicates the paucity of emergency resources in British Columbia’s interior. However, it also demonstrates that lower mainland facilities have little or no idle capacity for response to disaster, whether natural or caused by human activity.

Overcrowded ERs may be the most visible but intensive care units in and near Vancouver routinely operate at, or over, capacity. Were a ‘Code Orange’ event, one involving mass casualties, to occur, medical personnel and facilities would be overwhelmed. There is no spare capacity for appropriate healthcare response to disaster.

This duplicates the provincial government’s earthquake preparedness in schools.  Their main action is to pray that no event occurs to test the readiness for any form of calamity.

Categories: Health

3 replies »

  1. Excellent point Norm. Prince George is no small town. It serves a very large geographical area with a large percentage of workers in high risk occupations. Those workers count on a hub like Prince to have everything (and everyone) they need. I work in an industrial area and cringe everytime I hear an ambulance because it is likely a workplace accident. I cringe more when I know that ambulance will be stuck in traffic….nevermind getting there to find the ER overloaded….double nevermind having to endure a long air flight. My feeling is too much is wasted in the health care system by too many very highly paid people at the administrative level where no tangible work gets done….or if it does get done it lacks common sense. If they were at risk of injury greater than a papercut during the course of their work day perhaps things would change. If they had hands on experience in the ER's around our province perhaps things would change. We have the luxury of being a big province…if there is a catastrophic event in one area it would be good to know we were all set up in another area that would likely be untouched. Fine if the event is in central BC and we lean on the lower mainland for backup…but what if it is the other way around and there is no backup away from our coastal areas? Condolences to the workers and their families. Those guys worked very hard for a very long time. Their day wasn't spent shuffling paper from one pile to another…they added value to something.


  2. BC Liberal governt has more egg on it's face opver these tragedies – more than egg, pure feces.

    Again, the BC Liberals have show the country how to mess up a previously working and effective though short changed, part of their responsiibilities – Public Hesalth. Talk to anyone who works in the hospitals and clinics and you will hear the same complaints about the government – government cut backs and hiring freezes of the much needed properly trained personnel.

    The list of deficiencies of the parthetic BC Liberal government continues to grow in leaps and bounds.

    Thank you.


  3. At least you have an ER. Princeton's ER is now closed from midnight to 8am 4 days a week!
    Major highway, Mine, Mill and secondary industry, but the numer crunchers try to justify it with a statistic Only 1.4% of visits are in thise hours. Disgusting and VERY Very sad…..


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