Northeastern B.C. to benefit from funding boost for paramedics and ambulances

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VICTORIA, B.C. – The Province will benefit from $91.4 million in funding from The Ministry of Health to help with emergency response times of paramedics and ambulances.

To help in rural areas, BC Emergency Health Services will expand the capacity of air ambulance service in the northeastern part of the province while also adding more permanent part-time and full-time paramedic positions and offer enhanced training and roles for paramedics. Specific allocations and locations are still being finalized.

The Province will also be providing $4 million in immediate additional funding for necessary equipment, including carbon monoxide monitors, stretchers, safety kits and visibility gear.

“British Columbians in emergencies rely on the skills provided by paramedics, dispatchers and other staff with BC Emergency Health Services,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “Today’s funding supports their front-line efforts, increasing capacity in both urban and rural areas through a combination of innovations and new resources that allows us to develop a more comprehensive approach to enhancing emergency care throughout B.C.”

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BC Emergency Health Services will come up with a strategy that will focus on three key areas:

  • Improving emergency response in both rural and urban regions, with additional ambulances, paramedics and dispatchers
  • Supporting new initiatives to enhance rural and remote services to create better access to primary and community-based care
  • Introducing province wide innovations and improvements to support how BCEHS responds to calls

“It’s important to understand the answer to meeting the needs of our growing and aging population is more than just adding more paramedics, dispatchers and ambulances,” said BCEHS Executive Vice President, Linda Lupini. “This investment will also fund province wide innovations that will help us continue to transform the delivery of emergency health care services throughout B.C and create a sustainable model for the future.”

The Province says more stable paramedic staffing in rural areas will also be supported by a newly negotiated universal hourly wage will be effective as of April 7, 2017, which will see a raise for many front-line employees including part-time paramedics, who are working in smaller communities. This is in addition to the $91.4 million already being provided.

The Province will also be introducing two new innovations to help with care of patients and better use of ambulance resources.

“As a result of the new funding, two province wide innovations will be undertaken to help provide better and more appropriate patient care and make better use of ambulance resources in the community and reduce emergency room visits. BCEHS will add advanced care paramedics and other clinical staff in dispatch to provide 911 callers with more specialized triage assessments, to better identify the urgency of a caller’s condition and ensure patients get the right care, while reducing demand for non-urgent ambulance responses. Some paramedics will also receive additional training that will allow them to treat patients on the scene when they don’t need to go to the hospital. Currently paramedics responding to a 911 call typically transport the majority of patients to hospital.”

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