B.C. bolsters paramedic training and resources

Photo taken by Josiah Spyker. Vista Radio Staff

The B.C. Government is taking steps to further strengthen the province’s emergency medical response services.

“Since 2017, our government has made significant and long overdue changes to B.C.’s ambulance services in response to the pressures from population growth, COVID-19 pandemic, toxic-drug crisis and climate events, including heat, floods and wildfires,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.

“The extraordinary progress we’ve made together to retain and recruit more paramedics and the investment we’ve made to add more ambulances have benefited people across the province, particularly those in rural and remote communities.”

As of Mar. 2024 B.C. officials said 5,040 CUPE 873 staff are working in the BC Emergency Health Service (BCEHS), 1,104 more than in Mar. 2017.

The increase has also coincided with an increase in service calls.

“In 2023-24, there were 375 dispatch staff working across BCEHS’s three dispatch centres, a 42 per cent increase since 2017-18,” said B.C. officials.

“Between April 2022 and March 2023, BCEHS has added 1,325 in-service hours per day across the province, a 19 per cent increase.”

In April, the B.C. government phased out the existing schedule-on-call model. The new system aims to meet the demands of the communities they serve.

“We’re investing in ambulance services, so people get the urgent, life-saving care they need, when and where they need it,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Health.

“Wherever a health emergency takes place, in our biggest cities or in our rural and remote communities, every second counts. We will continue to build out ambulance services to reduce response times and help BCEHS deliver timely, quality care everywhere in B.C.”

The provincial government is furthering investments in emergency health services by adding 55 new ambulances and 15 paramedic response units in metro and urban areas. That said, there were no additional provisions for rural communities in this announcement.

The ambulances will enter service in 12-18 months.

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