One of the patterns emerging from KERPA’s data is the high number of deaths in the highway between Nelson and Castlegar since 2012. Photo: screenshot from KERPA website.

Interactive map documents accidental deaths in Kootenay Boundary region

The research hopes to save lives in motor vehicle, recreational and drowning accidents

British Columbia’s southern Interior has some of the highest rates of accidental deaths in the province, according to a Kootenay physician’s association. And one Nelson emergency doctor thinks the Kootenay Boundary region may be even deadlier.

The Interior Health Authority (IHA) region, which comprises most of southern B.C. outside the Lower Mainland, sees 57 per cent of B.C.’s winter activity deaths, 37 per cent of recreational ATV deaths, 34.5 per cent of accidental drownings, and 30 per cent of motor vehicle deaths, according to Dr. Nic Sparrow of the Kootenay Emergency Response Physicians Association (KERPA).

“I was a little shocked,” Sparrow said. “I knew it was high but not quite how high.”

KERPA researcher Dr. Heather Strong tallied the numbers from data that is publicly available from ICBC and the B.C. Coroners Service.

There are currently no geographic stats available for accidental deaths in the Kootenay Boundary region, which is within the IHA. So KERPA is creating an interactive accidental death geomap for the region.

Sparrow hopes it will illuminate where and why people are dying in the Kootenay Boundary, and how accidents can be avoided.

He said he got the idea from frogs.

An online geomap documents the recovery of the endangered Rocky Mountain Tailed Frog.

“I saw that map and thought, ‘How we are going to do this for human deaths?’ If we can map for an endangered frog, we can do it for people.”

Sparrow is well known for his work assisting emergency personnel in the Nelson area. He said he’s responded to about 300 911 calls in the past five years. That’s in addition to his full-time job in the emergency ward at Kootenay Lake General Hospital.

Related: West Kootenay doctor brings innovative approach to emergency response

The map-in-progess charts deaths by motor vehicle, drowning, and recreational activities.

KERPA is working with a group of Selkirk College nursing and rural pre-medicine students to continuously update the map with deaths that have been reported in the media or are otherwise in the public domain.

Clicking on the icon for any accident on the map will link to a news article or other documentation of the accident.

Sparrow says he already sees one pattern emerging on the map.

“I have responded to a number of accidents in the same area, specifically [on Highway 3A at] the bluffs in the Beasley area. People are dying there on a regular basis. They are small numbers but small numbers make big numbers eventually.”

KERPA’s map shows seven deaths on or near the highway between Castlegar and Nelson since 2013. But Sparrow says there have been more than that. He says the map is incomplete, a work in progress with more data still to be added.

He also said the Kootenay Boundary does not have the same level of pre-hospital care as many other areas.

“We don’t have rapid access to a helicopter. To get a helicopter to fly into this region often takes a minimum of a 60-minute flight time from Kamloops.”

He added that the Kootenay Boundary region only has a level-two trauma centre in Trail — as opposed to the superior level-one in Kelowna — and that the time between a 911 call and an accident victim reaching a surgeon can be very lengthy. Additionally, there is only one critical care paramedic in the entire region.

“Most American trauma units are talking about the ‘golden hour,’ and we are lucky if we can even get the patient to the hospital within that hour, sometimes two or three hours, and sometimes that is not a hospital with a surgeon,” he said.

“If this map helps us prevent trauma deaths and helps emergency responders act and treat patients more effectively, we will have fulfilled our goal.”

 

One of the patterns emerging from KERPA’s data is the high number of deaths in the highway between Nelson and Castlegar since 2012. Photo: screenshot from KERPA website.

Just Posted

Elk Valley Furniture Studio celebrates grand opening

Elk Valley Furniture Studio is inviting the community to shop selection, shop… Continue reading

Local art on display at annual Hearth studio sale

Residents of and visitors to Fernie lined up outside Sarah Pike’s home… Continue reading

New location, new energy for The Good Earth

The Good Earth celebrated their grand opening in a new space on… Continue reading

Fernie Arts Co-op celebrates upgraded space with sale

The Fernie Arts Co-op was a busy place on Saturday, as they… Continue reading

Holiday Artisan Fair at The Arts Station showcases local talent

The Arts Station was bustling and alive with artisans, shoppers and live… Continue reading

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

Pacioretty scores 2, Golden Knights top Canucks 6-3

Vegas goalie Fleury gets win No. 452

B.C. VIEWS: Hunger does not end with the season

Despite innovations in food distribution, the need is still there in B.C. communities

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Most Read