Our Message to British Columbians

I’m Troy Clifford, president of the Ambulance Paramedics of BC and Emergency Dispatchers of BC. With all the uncertainty surrounding us, I’m reaching out directly to British Columbians on behalf of our 4,500 ambulance paramedics and emergency medical dispatchers.

Ambulance service began in BC as far back as the early 1900s, before evolving in 1974 to the current model we see today. For more than 100 years, paramedics have helped you in your greatest time of need: conserving life through highly skilled emergency medical care, alleviating suffering, and promoting health.

Your ambulance paramedics and emergency medical dispatchers are trained for the worst scenarios and to rise to the challenges of everyday medical crises. And now we are rising to manage an unprecedented crisis, one the modern world has never seen.

We want you to know that while the world is at a standstill, BC’s ambulance paramedics and dispatchers are on the move. We are helping raise awareness to protect the community, we are managing your fears, and we are providing timely emergency medical care and transport to hospital when needed.

Like all frontline workers, we are following government and public health guidelines and protocols to ensure everyone’s safety, reduce exposure, and prevent transmission of COVID-19, including doing an initial assessment in the doorway while standing a minimum of 6 feet away, along with using the proper protective equipment.

As governments and health officials have advised, if you believe you have COVID-19, you should self-isolate and call 811, your doctor, or the public health line. If you are in distress or have a medical emergency, call 911 ambulance dispatch for immediate attention and care. Our emergency medical dispatchers have specialized medical skills and training, which means they can ask pointed questions and begin instructing you on potentially life-saving next steps until paramedics arrive. We call them the “first-first” responders.

We know this pandemic has understandably created fear and stress in the community. We urge you to stay informed through credible sources. We urge you to continue practicing good hygiene and social distancing. We urge you to have the community in mind as we all unite against COVID-19. Ambulance paramedics and dispatchers know we are tasked with extraordinary responsibilities every day and that our jobs carry risk. But this pandemic has reminded us that we are human, too. Like you, our members are managing their own concerns and fears, all of which they put secondary to serving the community.

We hear your nightly cheers of support for all frontline workers, and in turn, we want you to know that we will continue to be there for you through this troubling time and beyond.

Take care of yourselves and your families.

Sincerely, Troy Clifford