Province hires more paramedics in effort to provide better ambulance care to rural communities

FORT ST. JOHN — The Province of BC announced the hiring of 271 new paramedics and changes to how they are scheduled.

In a release, the BC Government said, “people living in 60 rural and remote communities throughout B.C. will benefit from improved ambulance paramedic staffing models that will improve 911 responsiveness, provide consistent and reliable community-based out of hospital care.”

The controversial on-call shifts for paramedics are being re-structured. Paramedics will no longer be required to work 72 hours shifts.

Ambulance Paramedics of BC president, Jason Jackson said. “This is a fundamental change in how we provide paramedic services in these communities and will address how we respond to 911 calls, how we recruit and retain paramedics to work in smaller communities, and most importantly, how we can provide better care to our patients.“

The Province has accepted recommendations about the phasing out of the existing Scheduled On-call (SOC) staffing model towards one of three models that will better meet the specific staffing needs of individual communities.

The new models will transition:

  •  21 communities to an “alpha” 24/7 model, which will provide more reliable 24/7 emergency response service. Communities moving to this model will have paramedics in the station on-duty three times more than with the existing model.
  •  25 communities to a “mix shift” model, which will provide staff with more flexibility and better work/life balance. Communities moving to this model will have staff on-duty in the station twice as often as they do currently.
  •  14 communities to a “kilo” model with a full-time permanent unit chief, which will offer more flexible staffing options to maximize local recruitment.

‘We are excited to be bringing these staffing model improvements to our paramedics and the rural and remote communities we serve,” said Leanne Heppell, BCEHS’ Chief Ambulance Officer.