In January and February, the Dawson Creek Regional Airport has had 63 medevacs in and out.
The previous year saw 35 in January and February, and the airport sees about 250 on the year. (If the rest of the year saw the same numbers as the first two months, that would be 378 by the end of the year).
In November and December, they get about three or four per day.
“Compared to other years, January and February have been the slowest months for medevacs, charters, whatnot,” said Airport General Manager Patrick Sihota. “I think medevacs are going to pick up here.”
The service benefits many in the Peace Region, not just Dawson.
“We’ve seen medevacs from as far as Chetwynd, Tumbler come up and need to get those services as well, on occasion, possibly from Fort St. John as well. We’ve also got big rural community around Dawson Creek that hugely benefits from having the service here,” said Sihota.
“We also maybe once a month see the Alberta Health Services utilize our medevac services, so we aren’t only benefiting the BC side, we’re also benefiting the Alberta side by just having this service in and out of our community.”
While you never want to see more emergencies that require the service, Sihota is proud the Airport can provide the service.
“You don’t want to see a lot of medevacs in your community, but the fact that we’re able to service them when they need to come in and out is pretty vital,” he said. “We’ll do anything we possibly can to make sure that medevac gets in and out.”
He said the mantra for staff at the Airport is treat every call like it’s a close family, and make sure the runways are clear so medevacs can get in and out. One of their crew, he noted, found out they were clearing the runway for a close family member in January. Another applied to the job because they themselves needed a medevac two years ago — so it’s not a hard mission for the crew to follow through on.
“The fact of the matter is it could be anyone’s father, son, newborn baby that can be flying out of there, and how we at the airport treat is that they are part of their family,” explained Sihota. “You don’t realize how important the service is though, until you’re truly affected by it directly.”
And it’s important to do their best — obviously, speed is important.
“It’s so important for us an airport to make sure that they come in and they get out as soon as possible, because those beds can be filled, those planes could be utilized somewhere else,” said Sihota.
Sihota notes that he’s been trying to raise the profile of the service, because it’s an important service to have in a community like Dawson Creek, but it’s something you don’t necessarily notice until you need it.
“Our goal right now as an airport is to make sure that people understand the medevac service, and people appreciate that we’re one of the communities in this area that have significant number of medevac services in and out,” he explained.
“We have 250 medevacs a year, that’s 250 lives, and you can’t put a price on a life.”