Jessica Friesen community paramedic with Prince Rupert BC Ambulance Service explains on May 26, some of the challenges faced by ambulance staff and paramedics during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Jessica Friesen community paramedic with Prince Rupert BC Ambulance Service explains on May 26, some of the challenges faced by ambulance staff and paramedics during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Province issues new directives to Northern Health to ensure ambulance efficiency at hospitals

Northern communities to benefit from strengthened ambulance system, says Ministry of Health

New directives made to Northern Health will benefit residents of Terrace and neighbouring northern communities arriving at hospitals by ambulance, the Ministry of Health (MOH) stated, on July 16.

Northern residents can also look forward to more resources and strengthened utilization with the reinforcement of ambulance services.

“The Province is directing it [Northern Health] to add additional staff to receive patients and care for them when they arrive at emergency departments. This will get paramedics and ambulances back on the road to respond to patient calls more quickly,” the ministry stated, in a July 16 email to The Northern View.

Last week Adrian Dix, minister of health announced funding to support 85 new full-time paramedic positions and 3o full-time dispatchers. This is in addition to the 271 paramedics hired by BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) since January. Between 2017 and 2019, B.C. added 119 paramedics to support direct patient care, improve service and response times and modernize dispatch operations.

“These changes build on the Province’s focused investment into better ambulance service in rural and remote communities. Since 2017, the provincial government has increased the BC Emergency Health Services budget from $424.25 million to $559.12 million,” Craig Sorochan manager of communications and spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, stated.

“We’ve doubled the average annual spending increases compared to previous years … This has meant more paramedics, more dispatchers, and more ambulances on the road in the North and across the province.”

To further assist rural and remote communities, 22 rural ambulance stations will be converted to round-the-clock operations, and another 16 stations will be converted by October.

The province is also taking immediate action to support paramedics and dispatchers serving Northern communities by contracting a team of mental health professionals to work with paramedics, and working collaboratively with the union, the email stated.

“Immediate action on operations, as well as stronger leadership and increased investment at BCEHS, will deliver a more effective ambulance service for patients and families across the North who depend on it,” the Ministry stated. “Better support for Northern paramedics and dispatchers will help them do the vital work we count on every day.”

READ MORE: Prince Rupert paramedic has her finger on the pulse of the city

READ MORE: More than half a million ambulance calls across B.C. per year


 
K-J Millar | Journalist 
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