Two new ambulances are now on the road answering emergency calls in Maple Ridge and Coquitlam, the provincial government announced Friday.
Maple Ridge missed out last February when B.C. Emergency Health Services announced eight new ambulances for Metro Vancouver.
But in mid-September, Premier Christy Clark announced that the Maple Ridge station would get a third new ambulance, while another would be stationed in Coquitlam.
But last week, the ambulances were still nowhere to be seen, with the Ambulance Paramedics of B.C. wondering where they are.
Friday, though, both Liberal MLAs said they are on the road.
“B.C. Emergency Health Services committed to closely monitor and increase our ambulance services if new data showed it was warranted, and they are honouring that promise,” Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Doug Bing said in a news release.
“By working together, we were able to take these concerns to the government and ensure that we have another ambulance to serve our residents,” Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton said, also in a release.
B.C. Emergency Health Services confirmed the ambulances were staffed by paramedics already in the system and in active service as of Wednesday.
“Meanwhile, BCEHS is following the process laid out in the collective agreement regarding the hiring of permanent paramedic positions for these units,” said Trevor Pancoust, communications for B.C. Emergency Health Services.
Maple Ridge resident Matt Kelso, who has a brain tumour, started the campaign to get more ambulances in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows a year ago. In January, he started collecting names on a petition outside a shopping mall. In all, he collected about 12,000 signatures.
However, he never forwarded the petition to any level of government. Kelso said then when he had about 8,000 names, the announcement came that most regions in Metro Vancouver were getting more ambulances, except Maple Ridge.
“That’s what I wanted to accomplish.
“Just the fact … by me making a decision to start a petition, along with the rest of Maple Ridge, this most likely has ended up saving lives. There’s nothing better than that, honestly.”
According to B.C. Emergency Health Services, the new ambulances added to Langley in February also helped alleviate calls in Maple Ridge.
“At the time, B.C. Emergency Health Services committed to monitor and evaluate its response times in Maple Ridge and Tri-Cities and add resources if needed,” said a release.
Although response times for the most serious calls had declined in Maple Ridge, growing population and increasing demand for ambulances warranted another vehicle.
B.C. Emergency Health Services uses a model which dispatches ambulances to neighbouring cities as required.
This is the third ambulance for Maple Ridge and the seventh for the Tri-Cities. All of the ambulances will also serve surrounding communities.