Paramedic union president Bronwyn Barter

Paramedics make house calls in rural program

80 full-time and half-time positions to keep paramedics in small B.C. towns, and patients out of emergency

The B.C. government is expanding its community paramedic program from six to 73 communities, to stabilize their employment in rural areas by extending their hours and their duties.

Those duties will include visits to nursing homes and private homes, replacing on-call rural paramedic positions with full-time or half-time jobs in places that may see only one or two emergency calls in a week.

Health Minister Terry Lake said Wednesday there are already jobs posted for communities in the Northern Health region, after a successful pilot project in six communities. Recruiting will begin in the Interior Health region in early 2017 and in the Vancouver Island and Vancouver Coastal regions by spring 2017.

“While you’re not on call-outs, you can go into a nursing home and talk with patients,” Lake said of the new paramedic roles. “You may be doing CPR training, you may be doing chronic disease management in people’s homes.”

Experience in other provinces has shown that community paramedics can reduce emergency room visits and keep chronic patients in their homes longer, Lake said.

Bronwyn Barter, president of CUPE local 873 representing 3,900 ambulance paramedics, said the union and local politicians have been advocating for the approach since 2013. It allows paramedics to make a living in smaller communities.

Rhiannon Davis works as a paramedic in Tofino, one of the six pilot communities. She said the new role allows her to develop relationships with people in the area and understand their needs, preventing rather than waiting for emergencies.

Pilot programs are underway in Tofino, Ucluelet, Port Hardy and Cortes Island in the Island Health region, Fort St. James, Hazelton and Chetwynd in Northern Health and Creston and Princeton in the Interior Health region.

Communities to receive the service over the next year:

• Island Health region: Alert Bay, Cortes Island, Denman Island (including Hornby Island), Gabriola Island, Galiano Island, Gold River, Mayne Island, Pender Island, Port Alice, Port Hardy, Port Renfrew, Port McNeil, Quadra Island, Sayward, Sointula, Tahsis, Tofino, Ucluelet, Zeballos

• Northern Health region: Atlin, Chetwynd, Dease Lake, Fraser Lake, Fort St. James, Granisle, Haida Gwaii, Hazelton, Houston, Hudson Hope, MacKenzie, McBride, Kitwanga, Southside, Stewart, Tumbler Ridge, Valemount, Wells

• Interior Health region: Alexis Creek, Anahim Lake, Blue River, Clearwater, Clinton, Creston, Edgewood, Elkford, Field, Fruitvale, Gold Bridge, Golden, Greenwood, Kaslo. Keremeos. Lillooet, Logan Lake, Lumby, Lytton, Midway, Nakusp, New Denver, Princeton, Revelstoke, Riondel, Rossland, Salmo, Seton Portage, Sicamous, Sparwood, Winlaw

• Vancouver Coastal region: Bella Bella, Bella Coola, Bowen Island, Madiera Park, Texada Island


Just Posted

Editor’s view: A Hopeful start to the community’s first 10 km run

Good mix of pomp and circumstance, variable terrain and silliness at Sunday’s run

Lower Mainland could see spring flurries

Snow expected at higher elevations

Auditors couldn’t tell if Fraser Health executives bought booze on taxpayers’ dime

Review from 2014 says one administrator bought Bose headphones on company credit card

Experts detect risk of rock avalanche above Bridal Falls near Chilliwack

Risk in the one-in-10,000-year is minimal but triggers FVRD to direct growth elsewhere

VIDEO: Olympic medalist teaches swimming in Hope

Brent Hayden fondly remembers local swim meet from his youth

Vancouver Aquarium’s resident octopus released into ocean

Staff let the Giant Pacific octopus go into the waters near Bowen Island so she can reproduce

Canucks find scoring touch in 5-2 win over Blackhawks

Four Vancouver skaters have two points apiece in victory over Chicago

‘Not well thought out:’ Arizona family slams B.C. speculation tax

American family spends half the year in vacation home on Vancouver Island

Family of B.C. wildfire victim wants better emergency preparedness for vulnerable people

Williams Lake’s David Jeff “fell through the cracks”

Senate backs bill to legalize recreational marijuana

Justin Trudeau reminded senators that his government was elected on a promise to legalize pot

Where Canadians buy real estate abroad: report

Hot Spots: Top 30 home-buying destinations for Canadians in the Americas

Ban on grizzly bear hunt, new rules take effect April 1

Taxidermists, tanners will have to report on any grizzly bears or parts brought to them

Ontario father grief stricken over murder of ex-wife and children

‘No words to explain,’ grieving father of slain teens says in statement

Most Read