New paramedic positions announced

Critical Condition

New paramedic positions announced

Three new positions are in addition to the recently added full-time community paramedic position.

BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) has announced the addition of three new paramedic positions to support the health of people living in Castlegar and the surrounding communities.

The three new regular positions are in addition to the recently added full-time community paramedic position, which is expected to be filled this spring.

The additional resources are part of an ongoing commitment by the Ministry of Health, the Provincial Health Services Authority, and BCEHS to increase the number of permanent paramedic positions, and improve ambulance services in urban, rural and remote areas of the province.

“People living in Castlegar and the surrounding region need to know the ambulance service will be there when they need it, whether it is for patient transfers or medical emergencies,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “We are committed to improving access to care for people by making sure necessary health supports such as paramedics and the high level of patient care they provide are available in their community.”

“These three new full-time paramedic positions contribute to the region’s economy and support local families,” said Katrine Conroy, MLA for Kootenay West. “As well, the community paramedic position adds a new dimension to primary care in Castlegar, especially for elderly residents, and those living with chronic and complex diseases who will now be able to receive these health-care services in their homes or local clinics. These services may include wellness checks, healthy lifestyle promotion and measuring vital signs, and will support preventative health care. ”

Castlegar has previously relied on one full-time paramedic, and a number of on-call paramedics to staff its two area ambulances. Having four full-time paramedic positions provides for full-time staffing seven days a week.

“These changes will help keep crews available to respond to 9-1-1 emergencies in the area,” said Linda Lupini, Executive Vice President of BCEHS. “Paramedic services are increasingly needed, as part of an integrated health care system.”

“The City of Castlegar is very pleased with this announcement as it comes after many long years of hard work and lobbying,” said the city’s mayor Lawrence Chernoff. “For years, Castlegar has been under-staffed, and this has had a direct impact on the patients and citizens in the area. As a paramedic for 29 years, I understand the need to provide quality care and the importance of consistency in staffing, particularly in rural areas. We are grateful for the addition of the full-time primary care paramedic positions and we look forward to the many ways in which this serves our community now and in the years to come.”

Castlegar is among the communities identified as top priorities in the ongoing review under the BCEHS Action Plan. Additional paramedics and ambulances were also recently added in Vancouver and Nanaimo. Other communities are also under review by BCEHS, and any changes will be announced when finalized.

“The Ambulance Paramedics of BC-CUPE Local 873 is pleased to see additional paramedic positions being added to the Castlegar area,” said union president Cameron Eby. “The announcement brings good news for our hardworking members – the pre-hospital medical experts – and supports us in providing definitive patient care.”

The new paramedic positions will be awarded based on the hiring standards in the CUPE 873 Collective Agreement with BCEHS.

The Castlegar News has been looking at the state of pre-hospital care in the province for the past six weeks as part of our Critical Condition series.

Stories in that series include the following:

Week One: “People are dying from treatable medical conditions”

Week Two: Reports support claims of subpar care

Week Three: Is there hope beyond Hope

Week Four: Policy prevents advanced paramedic care in rural areas

Week Five: Better pre-hospital care could save treatment costs in long run

Week Five: Personal stories offer insight into why change is needed