B.C. is preparing to help hospital and care home evacuees from the Northwest Territories.
Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma said Thursday (Aug. 17) during the latest B.C. wildfire and drought update that 55 hospital patients and care home residents will be arriving at Vancouver International Airport from the Northwest Territories.
“This situation is extremely dynamic,” explained Ma, adding that there is a potential for more to come.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said patients will be triaged and assessed at YVR and then transferred to other locations.
He added the patients are a mix, with 22 people who are assessed for long-term care but in hospital and 33 who are hospital patients, ranging from pediatric care to pre- and post-surgical.
Staff at Vancouver Coastal, Fraser and Providence health authorities are preparing and have already been through patients charts to assign care. Most long-term care patients will be transferred to Mount Saint Joseph Hospital in Vancouver.
“That is a lot of people at an individual level. It’s an extraordinary trip for someone from a hospital or a care home in the Northwest Territories to come down to Vancouver and very difficult for the staff there, challenging for the staff here and mostly really challenging for the patient.”
However, Dix said staff are prepared, pointing to 2021 when 300 patients were transferred to Metro Vancouver from the Interior overnight by aircraft due to flooding.
“This is something, unfortunately, because of extreme weather conditions we’re well prepared for.”
The majority of evacuees will be going to Alberta or Saskatchewan, but Ma said B.C. is assuring the N.W.T. that they will be there for support.
Ma said B.C. is able to provide approximately 1,100 spaces to receive evacuations, if required.
It comes as the Government of Northwest Territories ordered Yellowknife be evacuated by Friday at noon.
Municipal and Community Affairs Minister Shane Thompson said that evacuees were ordered to evacuate by plane or by road by Friday, the territorial government is working closely with the airline company for the people evacuated by air. He said the reason for the order was to allow enough time for the city to evacuate safely while roads are still safe to do so.
– With files from Kaicheng Xin