Staffing for 24/7 service at the Burns Lake ambulance station was brought in on Oct. 29. (Eddie Huband photo/Lakes District News)

Staffing for 24/7 service at the Burns Lake ambulance station was brought in on Oct. 29. (Eddie Huband photo/Lakes District News)

Burns Lake now has full time paramedics

Staffing now sufficient for 24/7 service

The Burns Lake ambulance station officially converted to 24-7 coverage on Oct. 29, implementing eight new full-time paramedic positions.

This comes on the heels of an announcement made in July that more than 20 stations in smaller communities around the north and elsewhere would soon have enough paramedics on duty to expand services.

”The eight-person regular staff includes seven primary care paramedics and a full-time unit chief. In addition, this station has one part-time community paramedic position,” said B.C, Emergency Health Services Representative Shannon Miller. “The community paramedic will continue to work independently of the ambulance but may still be required to support medical emergency response, as they do.”

Miller went on to tell Lakes District News that the position of unit chief was already in place, while the other seven positions are new hires. The station will continue to have casual employees or on-call positions attached to it as well, to back-fill and provide relief to the full time shift, and to staff the second ambulance.

The Burns Lake station is one of six in the north being converted to 24/7 coverage with the others being Houston, Chetwynd, Fort St James, Fort Nelson and Vanderhoof.

For years, local governments in small communities around B.C. have been pushing for better ambulance services. Burns Lake is no different, as the issue of longer-than-normal ambulance response time has caused numerous grievances from local community members.

Staffing levels at smaller ambulance stations have relied heavily on part time, on-call paramedics, but the level of pay — $2 an hour while on-call — was widely regarded as insufficient for someone to consider employment as a paramedic.

In addition to the Burns Lake station, four scheduled on-call positions will also be brought in at the ambulance station on the Southside. The same will be done in Atlin, Dease Lake, Bear Lake, Hudson’s Hope, Mackenzie, McBride, Port Clements on Haida Gwaii, Stewart and Wells.

READ MORE: B.C. ambulance dispatch still an issue in Burns Lake

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Eddie Huband
Multimedia Reporter
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