The aircraft involved is a 1995 Sikorsky helicopter owned and operated by Helijet International. (CTV News)

A year after a sizable jump in traffic, the number of air ambulance calls seems to have returned to normal on Vancouver Island in 2020.

So far, the number of calls from the island is down this year, with only 519 calls being made during the first eight months of 2020, far behind the pace that resulted in 1,107 calls in 2019.

Based on data provided by BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) 86 of the calls made in 2020 were for medical emergency and 433 were for medical transfer to Island Health hospitals.

In 2019, there were 174 medical emergency calls recorded and 933 medical transfers. That number was higher than the trend observed in 2018 ( 643 calls) and 2017 (608 calls).

A BCEHS spokesperson was unable provide any insight into the trend by the time of this posting.

Nanaimo, Port Alberni and Courtenay, as well as isolated communities, including the Gulf Islands are the most dominant call areas for air ambulances on Vancouver Island.

The island accounted for 14 per cent of air ambulance transports in B.C in 2019/20, which was also the second lowest in the province.

In B.C., for fiscal year 2019/20, 39 per cent of air ambulance transports were done for Northern Health, followed by 26 percent for Interior Health, 18 per cent for Vancouver-Coastal and two per cent for Fraser Health.

Annually, BCEHS responds to more than 7,000 patients requiring transportation by air ambulance.

Most of the medical response calls are for traumatic injuries, traffic incidents, falls and medical emergencies requiring immediately air ambulance response, said BCEHS spokesperson Shannon Miller. About 90 per cent of air ambulance responses are for hospital transfer patients in critical condition.

BCEHS air ambulance program has a fleet of four air ambulance helicopters and six airplanes. It can also avail the services of 30 pre-qualified air carriers province-wide, if needed.

Nanaimo is home to one of the aircraft bases for BCEHS's critical care transport program. The other aircraft bases are in Vancouver, Prince George, Kelowna and Kamloops.