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Strides made in region’s ambulance service delivery

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
June 13th, 2024

The region’s rural ambulance service just got a little stronger.

Over two months ago the staffing model for ambulance workers in rural and remote communities are staffed changed, adding new full-time paramedic positions and new full time community paramedic positions across the region and the province.

The change affected the Kaslo, Winlaw and New Denver ambulance stations — Nelson was not affected — that went to a mixed-shift staffing model, replacing the previous scheduled on call model.

It was proven that the scheduled on-call model did not work — with many ambulance workers in rural and remote communities on call — as they were paid $2 per hour to carry a pager, now allowing paramedics to live and work in their communities.

An increase in the on-call pay rate from $2 per hour to $12 per hour was put in place in April 2023, but there were also three new models for the station staffing: alpha; mix shift; and kilo.

Nakusp began transition to alpha station last year — staffed 24/7 and employing eight full-time paramedics — while New Denver, Winlaw and Kaslo have transitioned to the mix shift model. Mix shift stations are staffed 16 hours a day, with the remaining eight hours covered by paramedics on call.

Although the roster has been increased the people to fill the positions have not. Out of the three rural mixed stations, only Winlaw has filled its roster, while Kaslo searches for one more paramedic and New Denver needs three more. Nakusp has seven of its 10 paramedic positions filled.

Community paramedics provide full-time community-specific patient care. In addition,  they now do not have to respond to 9-1-1 calls (as was the case previously under schedule on-call).


Doing the math

A mixed shift model employs eight part-time paramedics — with one unit chief — a significant bump from four part-time positions in the scheduled on-call model, with paramedics working 12-hour day shifts with two 12-hour, night shifts.

That night shift has four regular hours and eight on-call hours, meaning mix shift stations staff members will receive 32 hours per week with 16 on-call hours per week. Previously, a scheduled on-call model paramedic worked 72 hours in a row, eight hours per day at the station and 16 hours per day on call.

Categories: General

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