Paramedics tout extensive training

May 23 to 29 is Paramedic Services Week across Canada.

Each year in B.C., there are approximately half-a-million calls to 911 that require ambulance dispatch.

For the past two years, Ambulance Paramedics of BC (APBC) said its 4,500-plus members have felt overwhelming love and support from the public due to the global pandemic and worsening opioid crisis with more than 90 overdose calls per day.

“Our ambulance paramedics and emergency dispatchers appreciate the public’s gratitude at a time when dual health emergencies have led our members to physical and psychological exhaustion,” said Troy Clifford, president of Ambulance Paramedics of BC.

APBC said this year has seen some of the worst service shortfalls in recent history due to medical leaves, recruitment and retention issues, and a flawed on-call service model.

This year’s theme of Paramedic Services Week is Paramedic as Educator – Citizen Ready. This week, APBC will use its social media channels to share more about what ambulance paramedics and medical dispatchers do.

“Ambulance paramedics have the most advanced life-saving skills and training among frontline responders,” said Clifford. “Our training takes months and years – not hours.”

From the moment someone calls 9-1-1 dispatch and asks for an ambulance, they are connected to an emergency dispatcher who is trained to begin what-can-be lifesaving medical instruction over the phone as a paramedic team heads their way by ground or air.

Six Levels of Care

There are six levels of paramedics requiring different levels of training:

“From our medical dispatchers, to ground paramedics and air ambulance teams, to our community paramedics, our members work hard every day to ensure you get timely, quality and advanced medical aid and transport to hospital,” said Clifford.

B.C. paramedics call on-call service model ‘flawed’