Jessica Friesen community paramedic with Prince Rupert BC Ambulance Service explains on May 26 how she loves her job as a paramedic and what some of the challenges during the pandemic are. (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 - Ministry of Health

  • Jul. 20, 2021 12:00 a.m.

New directives made to Northern Health will benefit residents of Prince Rupert 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 m,” 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 Oct.

The Province is also taking immediate action to support paramedics and dispatchers serving Northern communities, the email stated.

“Those workers have been working flat out to help us, and now we’re doing more to help them. That includes a direction that BC Emergency Health Services contract a team of mental health and wellness professionals to work directly with dispatch staff and paramedics to address chronic stress, fatigue, and support wellness among staff (including access to trauma-informed therapy).”

“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.”

“People across the North will also benefit from the collaborative and constructive work now underway between BC EHS management and the union, that will continue to be supported by the Province … They are working together to identify a range of measures to address employee wellness, operational performance, workload, response times, recruitment and retention, and public engagement.”

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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