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Injured forestry workers need better emergency care: Ombudsman

Feb. 1, 2017 - BC Forest Safety ombudsman Roger Harris says forestry workers are not receiving emergency help quickly enough in rural or remote areas.

In a report released on Wednesday, the ombudsman says that rural communities are impacted twice as much as their urban counterparts, adding that injured workers often wait many hours before being rescued via air ambulance.

Harris cited the example of an injured logger on the Haida Gwaii archipelago in 2014. The logger, whose leg was crushed, waited more than five hours to be taken to hospital — a trip that should have taken 20 minutes via helicopter. The report goes on to say the injured logger waited another six hours before being transported to a Vancouver hospital.

“For remote communities, as the distance to the nearest medical facility increases, the access to HEMS should be enhanced, not reduced,” Harris says.

The ombudsman’s recommendations include establishing guaranteed rescue timelines, reviewing the effectiveness of legislation, and the expanding the use of the hoisting rescue technique versus longlining in B.C.