Written by Sheila Finamore, Executive Director, Burnaby Health Services & Burnaby Hospital

Staff collaboration a key success factor in regional strategy to improve ambulance waiting times in Fraser Health Emergency Departments.

In response to critical concerns related to British Columbia Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) delayed response times (in the community), the Ministry of Health asked all health authorities to concentrate on improving ambulance waiting times in emergency departments (ED).

British Columbia Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) paramedic crews were being held in Fraser Health (and other health authorities) EDs, resulting in significant ambulance offload delays and unintentionally contributing to BCEHS service challenges (the standard is that ambulances should transfer patients to our care within 30 minutes).

The Fraser Health Emergency Network, local ED teams and BCEHS partnered on a regional strategy aimed to support this initiative. This work created the opportunity for strengthened partnerships between Fraser Health Emergency Network, BCEHS and ED teams.

Our goal is to improve patient transitions throughout the system by ensuring the right care is provided in the right time, in the right place, by the right provider.

This initiative went live on February 1, 2017.


  • Local offload processes in all EDs across the Fraser Health Authority
  • ED Surge Plans linking site optimization and capacity planning
  • BCEHS offload delay metric in MediTECH EDM Tracker/report


  • Critical review of ED and hospital congestion and surge processes
  • Highlighted need for local champions and system solutions
  • Strengthened partnerships with our BCEHS partners
  • Improvements in Fraser Health Offload Delays as per table below

Total Hospital Delay Hours (waiting time beyond 30 minutes)

February March April
2016 1497 1874 1465
2017 626 635 315

The data for April shows that the work done results in the equivalent of 1.7 ambulances per day being able to respond to emergency calls as opposed to waiting in our Emergency Departments. This translates to BCEHS being able to respond in a more timely manner to 911 calls.

In the face of many challenges, our ED teams have improved release times for BCEHS. The results of this effort are outstanding.

This work has not been easy. The greatest successes occurred when all hospital staff collaborated to improve offload delays.

Thank you to all our partners!

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