Victoria – Health Minister Terry Lake has issued the following statement in recognition of Paramedic Services Week, May 24-30, 2015:
“Paramedics are first responders in a crisis, the first line of defence in emergencies and on the front-line of community care. In emergency situations, every second counts. They are highly trained and skilled at providing emergency care, and play important roles in the community, particularly in rural or remote areas.
“This year’s theme is expanding care, and British Columbia is invested in ensuring that paramedics have the ability to fully engage with the community and use all of their skills. That’s why we have begun Phase One of the Community Paramedicine program, being rolled out in three rural communities in Northern Health – Chetwynd, Fort St. James and Hazelton.
“Finding comprehensive ways to use their skills will allow for better health-care options – and better career opportunities for paramedics themselves. In an expanded role, paramedics could eventually help with tasks at primary- and community-health centres. For example, Nova Scotia now uses paramedics in some of its small emergency departments, leading to fewer overnight closures and allowing emergency departments to remain in smaller communities.
“Innovative use of paramedics could allow us to use our health-care funding dollars in more efficient ways, doing more with the dollars we have. Government, B.C. Emergency Health Services and the paramedic union have committed to working together on the next steps to introducing community paramedicine throughout B.C. This includes the creation of at least 80 new full-time equivalent positions to support the implementation of community paramedicine programs over the next four years.
“During this week, we thank and appreciate the hard work of paramedics, and we are proud to move toward the realization of community paramedicine.”