Advanced-care paramedics push N.B. government for recognition of extra training

Above watch: New Brunswick paramedics are continuing efforts to push for recognition of advanced care paramedics in the province. Global’s Brion Robinson finds out why.

FREDERICTON – The union representing paramedics and dispatchers in New Brunswick says it is continuing efforts to push the government to recognize advanced-care paramedics in the province.

Judy Astle, president of the union, has been a paramedic for 25 years. She said the recognition process is taking too long to complete.

“It’s been a very slow process and advancement hasn’t been made,” she said, noting the paramedics’ extra training allows them to administer different drugs to patients.

“With the training advanced-care paramedics have, they can administer drugs and [can offer] better patient care [to] free up the nurses so they can stay in the hospitals where they are needed,” she said.
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Provincial Health Minister Victor Boudreau said there are 35 advanced-care paramedics in New Brunswick, although they are barred from using their extra skills because their credentials aren’t recognized in the province.

Boudreau said the province has put aside more than $500,000 for a pilot project to change that, but there’s not enough advanced-care paramedics to create a full provincial program.

“With those low numbers we don’t think we can start right off the bat with a province-wide program,” he said. “Now we’re looking at pilot projects and how could we introduce the advanced-care paramedics to allow them to practise [to] the fullest of their scope.”

But Chris Hood of the Paramedics Association of New Brunswick said the advanced-care paramedics have already proven themselves in other jurisdictions.

“We don’t need to test this — we know that advanced paramedics work,” he said. “They’re used worldwide…the scientific knowledge is there that advanced-care paramedics are good.”