The issues that paramedics and ambulance services in BC have faced has been well documented, including heavy workloads and unprecedented staff shortages.
The situation has only gotten worse since the pandemic began.
A recent reddit post from someone claiming to be a paramedic in BC suggested some of the problems that might be adding the strain on the service.
The user points to people calling 911 to be taken to the hospital to be fed, or for very minor scrapes or pains, instead of self-remedying at home.
- See also:
In a statement to Daily Hive, Troy Clifford, Provincial President for the Ambulance Paramedics of BC, suggested that while these types of calls are indeed real, he doesn’t blame the people who are making those calls. He also said they’ve been saying a lot of the same things to officials, which were raised in the reddit post.
“They’re not a frequent call and I don’t like to call them abuses of the system. We would suggest we need alternate ways of supporting these people,” said Clifford.
He went onto say, “There are people using the system inappropriately, a hundred percent. But, if people are in dire straits doing that, we need to identify the root causes.”
Staff recruitment and retention are a key focus for APBC, an issue they’ve been raising the alarm on since August of last year, according to Clifford. With new staff comes training, which is a lengthy process.
Factor in the added strain that COVID has put on the service, and the continuous need to respond to the ongoing opioid crisis, they’ve also been calling for an expanded fleet. Adding more vehicles could be a simple short term solution, but one that requires the government to step up financially.
Clifford does not want the issue to become political but says ambulance paramedics are in dire need of more resources.
“This is not a partisan issue. Most MLAs in the province are supportive of the ambulance service, and the challenges we’re facing,” he said.
In a media release, Renee Merrifield, BC Liberal Critic for Health said: “We need to see this government, and this Premier, take immediate action so that British Columbians are not left needlessly suffering while waiting for help to arrive.”
“I’ve talked to Renee a number of times, and a she’s very passionate advocate,” said Clifford.
Merrifield made an emotional plea to leaders who could drive the change that the APBC needs during question period on Monday.
In response, Health Minister Adrian Dix claimed that they’ve invested more than previous governments, and called their work “extraordinary.”
You can hear the Minister’s full response here:
“Minister Dix has been supportive and I’ve had conversations with him recently and with his staff about how we can do better.”
Clifford added, “I see hope in the future. It helps us when people like Renee call out those challenges.”