Interior Medical Transport (IMT) has committed to providing non-emergency medical transportation services to Lower Kootenay Band members in a culturally appropriate manner.
This commitment was made during a Lower Kootenay Band (LKB) and IMT memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed on Nov. 6.
IMT has been operating for 10 months now, and its main service is providing residents with transportation for medical appointments that are based out of the Kootenay region.
“Across our society, whether it’s the LKB or members of the public, people do need help accessing their health care or just being able to have safe transportation to get where they need to go,” said Chris Buckley, the CEO of IMT.
Buckley said that the signed MOU between the LKB paves way for IMT staff to participate in a cross-cultural training day with the Band.
“When it’s allowed with COVID rules, our paramedics and all of our staff will come over to Creston and spend a day learning about the LKB culture, and how the treatment of patients differs because of culture,” he said.
In addition to Trail, Cranbrook, Vancouver and even Calgary, he added that IMT is also able to provide Band members with cross-border transportation as an essential service since the Ktunaxa nation is split between the Canada-United States border.
Another clause in the MOU that Buckley highlighted is IMT’s ability to sponsor a Band member who is interested in becoming a paramedic.
“If that person goes and does the training to be an emergency medical responder, then we can do job placements and work experience with IMT to give that personal experience and insight training to move their career,” he said.
Nasukin Jason Louie of the LKB said that there are many benefits to the Band through this initiative.
“I have a personal story of one of my children that got very ill when they were in Montana, and this would’ve been definitely what we needed at the time,” said Louie.
Louie added that improving medical transportation for Band members has been an ongoing issue for years, and he said he believes members will now be in good hands.
“Luckily, nothing has happened with members travelling with their own time. But due to some vehicle issues they may have — they’re not going in reliable care, so we want to ensure that they get to their appointments with the specialists as safely as possible,” said Louie.
Following the signing of the MOU, Buckley presented a moose antler gift to the LKB as a token of their commitment to working with the group.
“When I look at a moose, his antlers provide him the security and safety that he needs from the predators, the world,” said Buckley.
“When I saw that, I felt that it was most appropriate as a presentation from IMT because that’s what we hope to represent: security and safety in the knowledge that if somebody is having a medical crisis, that they can rely on us to just ease that stress and provide that net that the moose gets with his horns.”
IMT has a staff of 10 licensed paramedics and has a total of three ambulances — also referred to as transfer units — in operation; two in Trail and one in Creston.
Two family members can accompany a patient in the back of an IMT transfer unit if necessary.
“We can accommodate a couple of extra people that want to go with them so that that person, while they’re travelling, is surrounded by family as well,” said Buckley. “It’s important because when you don’t have that, it’s apparently missing when you realize you’re by yourself.”
LKB members can arrange for services with IMT by contacting the Band’s administration office, while residents in town can book an appointment by visiting www.bcimt.ca or calling 1-250-368-7978.
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