The sound of sirens punctuating the air of downtown Terrace around lunchtime April 7 had to stand as a comfort to those who rely on the area’s various emergency services.
Called to the airport when a Hawkair flight bound for Vancouver had to turn around because of a mechanical issue, paramedics in a fleet of ambulances and accompanied by RCMP vehicles fire trucks were ready to respond if needed.
But the emergency medical services situation in smaller locations such as Stewart to the north and on Haida Gwaii is less than comforting where there is an overreliance on an increasingly short supply of part-time paramedics and drivers.
At an on-call rate of $2 an hour, a part-time paramedic is more correctly a volunteer who, for the most part, has a regular full-time job elsewhere to put food on the family table.
Juggling the commitment to community service with a full-time job can be difficult if not impossible and that’s contributed to the challenge of maintaining adequate ambulance service in small and remote locations.
Add to this the ongoing training that’s required of part-time personnel on their own time and on their own dime, it’s no wonder service is suffering.
This is not a new situation and it’s perplexing that it’s been allowed to continue for years. It’s way past time for the provincial health ministry to fix something that’s clearly broken.