Ambulance Paramedics of BC advocates for paramedics to be on Community Support Teams
The President of the Ambulance Paramedics of BC is pushing to have community support teams expanded to include paramedics responding to calls in communities such as Kamloops.
Union president Troy Clifford says he has met with over 100 local governments over the past year, looking at how paramedics could support the community with homelessness, addiction, and mental health issues.
Since paramedics attend those types of calls with police officers already, Clifford explains they would be an asset to community support groups.
“These community support teams with the help of mental health nurses and other referrals are very good programs. But one thing that’s missing from those programs is the paramedic to do the assessments and the treatments.”
He explains paramedics are well positioned in every community to be that support, noting that is what he has been working on with the government.
“What that will help with is not only the homelessness, but the palliative patients, and the seniors that are in community and support communities,” explained Clifford.
“We already have this in rural and remote BC in our community paramedic program. So what we’re suggesting is we simply expand that program.”
He suggests expanding the program to larger cities was intended years ago, noting Kamloops is in a good position to pilot the initiative.
“Nanaimo and Kamloops have similar dynamics and we could be out there in the community, in non-traditional ambulances responding to calls,” explained Clifford.
Clifford adds the expansion would free up resources that don’t need an ambulance but rather needed support, referrals, or alternate pathways.
“This is a simple solution that really could be cost-neutral in a lot of senses, and really have an opportunity to do something different to actually make a difference in patients.”
Clifford says he has met with some members of Kamloops Council about the expansion, noting he is working to bring a presentation forward to a city council meeting on the initiative.