BC Ambulance. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)

BC Ambulance changes coming to Burns Lake

Scheduled on-call to bring more permanent positions

The BC Emergency Health Services’ (BCEHS) new Scheduled On-Call (SOC) postings will bring three new position to Burns Lake.

Shannon Miller, the spokesperson for BCEHS told Lakes District News last week that Burns Lake was recently announced as one of the 87 SOC stations across the province to undergo important changes in its staffing model.

The new staffing model, Scheduled On-Call refers to a new type of paramedic shift that has regularly scheduled on-call hours as opposed to waiting for availability of on-call paramedics. SOC paramedics will be paramedics with regular shifts and will receive full wages.

According to BCEHS, these changes will improve emergency response coverage and create a more stable paramedic workforce especially in the remote, rural areas where workforce retention has historically been a problem.

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“Historically, BCEHS has relied on on-call paramedic staffing in our rural and remote communities in BC and that is changing.BCEHS is making these important changes to improve services to patients, and stabilize paramedic staffing,” said Miller.

The changes in staffing would create more than 500 new positions across the province, said Miller. These changes come on the heels of the ratified contract of paramedics, dispatchers and call-takers union, CUPE 873, with the Health Employers Association of BC to implement a new service model. This collective agreement with the Paramedics and Dispatchers Association of BC (2019-2022) was first rolled out on Vancouver Island earlier this year and these staffing changes are expected to bring 220 regular positions in the province’s rural and remote communities.

Currently Burns Lake has 12 paramedics, two ambulances, one community paramedic vehicle and one patient transfer car. During the 2020-21 fiscal year, Burns Lake saw 935 paramedic responses of which 75 per cent were in Burns Lake. Paramedics also responded in the surrounding area including Prince George, Tintagel, Houston, Palling, Decker Lake, Francois Lake, Tchesinkut Lake and Rose Lake.

More details on how these changes will impact the communities and paramedics are expected to follow in the coming days.

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