Three new full-time paramedics in Trail and one new ambulance will be in service by early September.
That will bump full-time paramedic positions to seven – ensuring two of those new jobs are filled by locals – and the number of ambulances servicing the region to three.
“We are pleased with that,” says Cameron Eby, president of the APBC (Ambulance Paramedics of B.C.)
“However, we are hoping for more full-time positions to be implemented.”
Because the new ambulance will be on-call, Eby says the status leaves service open to unpredictability as far as scheduling, because paramedics working those positions are paid by the call, rather than on a regular basis.
“That makes it more difficult to recruit and retain,” he continued. “The big thing, for the community, is (on-call) paramedics work from a pager. When a call comes in, they are paged and then have to come to the station, get prepared for the call, then go out. So there is a delay,” Eby said.
“We are of the opinion the community should be serviced by resources that are readily available and at the station already, so we would like to see more regular positions added.”
Eby says the Trail area is unique in that many communities are serviced over a large geographic area, and that much of the ambulance work involves inter-facility transfers.
Two dedicated ambulances will be in service by fall and the third will be available during peak daytime demand hours, which is when many of those patient transfers occur between hospital and care facilities.
In a Wednesday news release, the province stated, “the extra resources will also support the nearby communities of Rossland, Fruitvale and Salmo, where current on-call resources will be retained. The changes in Trail will help keep paramedic crews in their home communities, available to respond to medical 9-1-1 emergencies.”
The increased resources are part of an ongoing commitment by the Ministry of Health, the Provincial Health Services Authority and BCEHS to increase the number of permanent paramedic positions and improve ambulance services in urban, rural and remote areas of B.C.
As part of the BCEHS Action Plan, the community of Trail was identified as a top priority in the ongoing review of where services are most needed to improve patient care.
BCEHS also recently added full-time paramedics in the neighbouring community of Castlegar, as well as in the Central Interior and Peace River region.
“Paramedic services are an increasingly important part of our integrated health care system,” said Linda Lupini, executive vice president of BCEHS. “By increasing the number of full time paramedics available in the Trail area, BCEHS can better support the needs of patients and respond to the most urgent 9-1-1 calls faster.”
BC paramedics benefit from these additional full-time jobs that come with regularly scheduled hours, consistent pay and benefits.
“The residents of Trail are pleased to welcome these new paramedic positions to the community,” said Katrine Conroy, MLA for Kootenay West. “Having additional dedicated emergency services will improve patient care in the Trail area where high call volumes can affect emergency coverage and response times. These additions also mean more skilled jobs for the region, and better services for our aging and growing population throughout the West Kootenay region.”
The new paramedic positions will be awarded based on the hiring standards in the CUPE 873 Collective Agreement with BCEHS.