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Emergency care


For critical or life threatening conditions

Call 9-1-1 or go immediately to your nearest hospital emergency department (ED) if you or someone requires immediate medical attention for illness, injury or overdose, such as: 

  • Involved in a major accident
  • At risk of seriously harming themselves or others
  • You can also access crisis intervention and suicide prevention services
  • Trouble breathing, or catching your breath
  • Severe abdominal or chest pain/pressure
  • Weakness or tingling on one side of your body
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Heavy bleeding 

Wait times can vary depending on time, location and your level of need. People are seen in the Emergency Department based on how hurt or sick they are. This means the sickest people are seen first even if you arrived before them.

 Emergency department wait times

For emergency mental health care

Call 9-1-1 or go immediately to your nearest hospital emergency department (ED) if you or someone requires emergency mental health support. 

Your loved one may need emergency help if they:

  • Threaten or try to take their lives or hurt themselves or others.
  • See or hear things.
  • Believe things that are not true.
  • Are unable to care for themselves such as eating, sleeping, bathing and getting out of bed or dressing.
  • Tried treatment with therapy, medication and support and still have trouble with symptoms, often significantly interfering with their life.

To learn more about what to expect during a mental health emergency visit our page on emergency mental health care.

For free nurse advice and general health information

Call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 (7-1-1 for the deaf and hard of hearing) for trusted health advice. 

This free, 24-hour non-emergency telephone service is staffed by trained registered nurses, pharmacists and dieticians who can help answer your health-related questions with translation services in over 130 lanugages. 

You may also call your family physician, nurse practitioner for general health information. If you have an urgent medication refill, speak with your pharmacist. They can often provide short-term refills and other advice. 

For urgent non-life-threatening emergencies

Visit an Urgent Primary Care Centre (UPCC) for non-life-threatening emergencies such as sprains, strains, fevers, minor burns, and infections. These centres are open daily and staffed with doctors and nurses to handle urgent medical concerns that don't require emergency care or admission to hospital.

Find a UPCC in the VCH region

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Many of Vancouver Coastal Health’s hospital sites provide 24-hour emergency services, however operating hours may vary in rural communities. Call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 to verify hours of operation for emergency services in rural areas.

If possible, bring photo ID, your BC Services Card or CareCard and a list of any medications you are taking.


An Emergency Room (ER) triage nurse will see you when you arrive and ask you about your symptoms and check your vital signs. Have your photo ID, BC Services Card or CareCard and a list of your current medications ready for the nurse.

People are seen in the Emergency Department based on how hurt or sick they are. This means the sickest people are seen first even if you arrived before them.

Know that your medical records from your family doctor are not available at the Emergency Department. Emergency doctors only have information about your medical history from previous visits to that hospital.

Emergency Department employees are committed to providing the best quality health care they can. We ask for your patience as you wait for test results, interpretations, consultations and other information to help us diagnose and care for you.

  • ‎Your health care team will work with you to help plan when you will go home. 

  • Your doctor may write you a prescription for medication and a nurse will give you instructions on how to take the medication.

  • Try to arrange a family member or friend to drive or accompany you home.

  • Your health care team will work with you to coordinate any additional care that is required, such as home & community care services, care at another hospital or rehab services.

Our hospitals 

View hospital listings in our directory below. If you don't see your city listed below, find out which health authority you live in

SOURCE: Emergency care ( )
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