Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) Convention 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 10, 2021
UBCM: Ambulance paramedics urge local leaders to help update paramedicine models to support their communities
Paramedics have most advanced medical lifesaving skills & education among frontline responders
– Continued investment in Metropolitan and Urban resources.
– Expansion of the Community Paramedicine program
– Modernize and enhance on-call model that serves the majority of rural and remote BC
– Recruitment and retention into profession in every community of the province
– Paramedic and medical dispatching education takes months and years, not hours
– Paramedics health and wellness is critical for sustainability of the ambulance service
Vancouver, BC – As representatives from local governments across BC get set for the UBCM’s annual convention – to be held virtually next week – The Ambulance Paramedics of BC are preparing to deliver its message and engagement via a virtual booth.
APBC has solutions to ease public safety and frontline healthcare burdens, plus recruit and retain paramedics and emergency medical dispatchers who are quintessential resources for BC communities. The APBC will ask municipal leaders to support high quality, timely access to paramedics by calling upon BCEHS and the Ministry of Health to continue to implement the action plan to address sufficient resources in their communities.
Troy Clifford, president of the Ambulance Paramedics of BC (APBC) said: “Ambulance paramedics have the advanced medical training and skills that can save lives in conjunction with transport to hospital. Ultimately, without these two components, nothing matters. We are your essential frontline emergency responders for all medical emergencies.”
In addition, ambulance dispatchers are the only 9-1-1 call-takers that have medical training and expertise to begin what can be lifesaving direction over the phone.
Continued Investments in Urban and Metro Resources to meet Demands
The Provincial Government has made unprecedented increases to staffing and ambulance and dispatch resources. The APBC is calling on urban and metropolitan mayors and councillors to work with the provincial government to continue their investment in order to meet the steadily increasing calls for service and ensure access to timely and exceptional ambulances services is always available.
Expand Community Paramedicine program
One solution proposed by the APBC is to enhance the Community Paramedicine program, and to expand it to urban and metropolitan areas. It currently exists in approximately 100 rural, remote, and indigenous communities. Community paramedics work on the street, in people’s homes, and virtually to provide:
- immediate primary medical treatment
- preventative medicine
- healthcare education
- 9-1-1 emergency response
APBC says that by providing direct medical access to vulnerable, high-risk, and aging populations, community paramedics can help reduce calls to 9-1-1 and visits to the emergency room, while the program creates a stable paramedic presence in each community. The reduction of 911 calls and emergency room visits increases the capacity of the healthcare system and ensures that emergency paramedics are able to reach the most critical patients in a timely manner.
“Paramedicine has evolved from being a traditional emergency response to a robust, multi-disciplined practice that encompasses public safety and emergency prevention, scheduled and acute transport, and community-based health innovations,” said Clifford. “As such, the paramedicine model needs to evolve and expand.”
Change on-call model that serves most of BC
The majority of rural and remote communities in British Columbia rely heavily on an on-call service model, meaning ambulance paramedics are not employed full time, nor receive meaningful compensation – many paramedics are paid $2 per hour during an on-call shift with the hourly wage increasing only if they tend to an emergency or transfer a patient between health facilities. APBC says this continues to make recruitment and retention of paramedics difficult.
“We gratefully welcomed an announcement from our Provincial Government in July to enhance paramedic resources throughout BC communities, however, there remains a critical shortage of staff in many rural, remote and indigenous communities. So long as the $2 per hour compensation remains a part of our on-call model we will struggle to retain staff and recruit new paramedics,” said Clifford. “These paramedics cannot support their families on this model, so they choose to move on to other professions.”
Clifford says municipal leaders need to support BCEHS and the Ministry of Health to address this model to better serve their communities.
Most advanced lifesaving Skills and Education
First responders provide interventions to initially help patients in their emergency, while ambulance paramedics provide the only advanced prehospital medical care in British Columbia.
“Ambulance paramedic training takes months and years and involves clinical experience and practicums. We use our advanced medical training to provide critical care that continues through transport to hospital in ambulances equipped with the latest life-saving equipment,” said Clifford.
There are several license levels ranging from Emergency Medical Responders, who provide emergency care and transportation in some rural and remote areas, to more advanced emergency paramedic levels, all of whom are regulated professionals:
- Primary Care Paramedic
- Advanced Care Paramedic
- Critical Care Paramedic
- Critical Care Paramedics – Infant Transport Teams
- Paramedic Specialists
- Community Paramedics
Paramedics and dispatchers are essential professionals and are integral parts of your communities. They are the first line of medical intervention in every emergency in British Columbia. In addition to being the only frontline responders not restricted by municipal boundaries, ambulance paramedics have the following resources available by land, sea, and sky, all of which are equipped with lifesaving medical equipment:
- Paramedic Response Units
- Fixed-wing aircraft
About Ambulance Paramedics and Emergency Dispatchers of BC:
Ambulance Paramedics and Emergency Dispatchers of British Columbia is the union organization that represents the 4,500+ Paramedics and Emergency Dispatchers of the province of British Columbia, Canada. Please visit www.apbc.cafor more information.