More ambulance paramedics sought for Kelowna, BCEHS says

More ambulance paramedics sought for Kelowna, BCEHS says

More paramedics could be coming to serve the Kelowna area, B.C. Emergency Health Services says.

There are currently 44 full-time and four part-time paramedics in Kelowna.

“We are fully aware of the growing needs and calls in Kelowna, and demand analysis is underway in Kelowna and other metro and urban centres to determine the resources needed to meet current demands,” BCEHS said in a response to an inquiry from The Daily Courier.

In 2018, 16 permanent paramedic positions were added in Kelowna.

“There are two or three vacant positions, which will be filled shortly,” BCEHS said.

In 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government hired about 200 paramedics on temporary contracts across B.C.

Some but not all of those temporary positions have since been converted to full-time ones, the agency says. It says provisions in the collective agreement with the union that represents paramedics mean the temporary contracts can no longer be extended.

For its part, the union says the government should be creating more permanent positions rather than relying on temporary contracts.

“That’s hurting our staffing stability, it’s hurting our ability to fill ambulances. Having the instabilities of these (temporary) jobs doesn’t help us recruit. Full-time jobs we know people will work,” Troy Clifford, president of the Ambulance Paramedics of B.C. said in an article posted on the union’s website.

In the meantime, concerns are rising about the wait times experienced by some people in the Kelowna-area who’ve called for an ambulance.
“I had to call for an ambulance for myself and after waiting 45 minutes without a response, I ended up being driven to Emergency by others,” West Kelowna resident Brian Jamieson said earlier this month.

“This is totally unacceptable,” Jamieson said.