Paramedic’s union part of successful push to get electric ambulance in B.C.


BRITISH COLUMBIA Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) will soon deploy it’s first electric vehicles—including the first electric ambulance in Canada.

“This is a big win for us,” said David Hollingworth, Chair of the Environment and Climate Change Committee of Ambulance Paramedics and Emergency Dispatchers of BC / CUPE Local 873. “We have been pushing hard for years to get clean energy vehicles deployed where we work.”  

The new electric vehicles will include six support vehicles with emergency lights and sirens, and one type 2 transfer ambulance. Six charging sites are planned for the deployment as well.

It is estimated the seven vehicles will bring significant savings: $1,182,521 over 10 years; and 1,088 Tons of CO2e.  

With this deployment BCEHS will claim the title for the first E-ambulance deployment in Canada, and the largest deployment of electric vehicles in a Canadian ambulance service to date.  

CBC interview

The following is a transcript of an interview David gave to Laura Lynch, the host of the CBC radio show “What On Earth” on July 22, to celebrate the union victory.

So that music is supposed to indicate success. And we’ve got a little bit of a success story because we love to hear about listeners climate action. David Hollingworth was on the show a few weeks ago. He’s a paramedic on Vancouver’s downtown east side. He told us he was working to get his union to recognize a worker’s right to drive a clean energy vehicle.

I had been very concerned about the climate crisis for a long time. I had been making a lot of effort in my life to reduce my carbon footprint, and it occurred to me: Why should a worker have a right to a workplace free of secondhand smoke free of secondhand e-vapour. But I have to be subjected to the exhaust from vehicles and the nasty smells and the toxic effects of fuel.

We feel that workers should have a right to an exhaust and toxic fuel free work environment. The second way, that’s very easy to look at it, is that a worker should have a right to do no harm to future generations.

The last time we heard from him Hollingsworth’s union had thrown its support behind his initiative. Bbut now he has even better news to share: his employer, BC Emergency Health Services, is rolling out an EV pilot project. It’s planning to test out seven electric vehicles this fall, including one electric ambulance, which it says will be the first E ambulance in Canada.

I’ve been working on this initiative for five years now. And so for me, it was a sense of relief and satisfaction.

Hollingworth has reason to be satisfied and relieved as a healthcare worker. He’s all too familiar with the health risks of a changing climate.

We all see the reports of the extreme heat happening all over the world and all the other extreme weather events that are happening. And this is real suffering, real medical problems. So seeing my fellow union members seeing B C EHS take this step, it just makes so much sense to me.

I feel like these electric vehicles could be the wedge that really breaks open a larger crack for some significant deployment of clean energy vehicles and a service such as ours addressing its carbon emissions. And I’m really excited to see where it goes. I think it’s gonna lead to some really positive change.

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