Three of B.C.’s air ambulance helicopters are now equipped with night vision goggles to help deal with a rising number of call volumes.
Three of the four Helijet’s, based in Vancouver and Prince Rupert, have been fitted with the new technology, known as NVG.
A fourth Helijet, based in Kamloops, will be equipped with the night vision goggles later this year.
The province’s growing and aging population has made the country’s largest ambulance service busier and this $1.7-million investment will help B.C. Emergency Health Services reach more patients.
“Previously air ambulance transport was hampered by low-light conditions, patients now who need emergency care in more remote areas or transfers to health facilities, can be flown both day and night,” PHSA and B.C. Emergency Health Services executive vice president, Linda Lupini said at a press conference on Thursday.
Lupini said the shared cost between Helijet and BCEHS is about $1.7-million dollars plus training.
“Historically in Canada, NVG was limited to military use but because of its proven safety and operational benefits, NVG has now been expanded to law enforcement, search and rescue and now our ambulance,” Lupini said.
On top of enhancing safety, the new technology could be the difference between life and death for people in rural parts of B.C.
“In terms of landing at the areas we currently land at, that we can’t land at at night, we’ll probably do about 130 or 140 more patient transfers and responses,” Lupini said.
“Eventually we will probably be able to land in places we never could before.”
The goggles use image enhancement technology to collect all available light, including infrared light and amplify it so the pilot can see in the dark.
Using one of its Vancouver-based helicopters, BCEHS did its first night vision patient transport on April 20.