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B.C. paramedics call new emergency rescue rules ‘ridiculous’

WATCH: The safety of first responders is always a concern, but B.C. paramedics say the latest rules designed to prevent injuries are “ridiculous.” As Aaron McArthur reports, they also say the new regulations could put patients’ lives at risk.

Some of the changes made to the rules of how B.C.’s ambulance crews operate in an emergency situation are being called “ridiculous” by paramedics.

The new rules put out by BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) focus on crews working safely in and around slopes. Paramedics can continue to work if the slope is less than 35 degrees and if there is no risk of falling or tumbling greater than three metres or 10 feet. If the slope or embankment happens to be steeper than 35 degrees and has a designated walkway then the paramedics may continue with the rescue — as long as the ground is walkable and without boulders, ice or soil saturated with water.

If any of the above conditions are not met or if paramedics need ropes to descend or ascend, then they are not to continue with the rescue but should instead call a supervisor and wait for fire and rescue teams to arrive.

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“[These rules are] ridiculous and illustrates how out of touch our employer is with the work we do everyday,” Bronwyn Barter, president of the Ambulance Paramedics and Emergency Dispatcher of BC, said.

“Especially in rural and remote B.C. where we don’t have fire and rescue crews. So we do it anyways because of the patients.”

 

And Barter also questions the 35-degree rule, saying paramedics have no way to know what is and what isn’t the required angle.

“It’s a bit of a joke to the paramedics the way the policy reads 35 degrees, [it’s] not like we have inclinometers in our kits to start measuring slopes, etc.,” Barter said.

“We have an employer that only knows hospital settings and health care — not what it’s like on the front line — public safety.”

Barter said it is their understanding that BCEHS made the change to escape WorkSafeBC orders to provide paramedics with certain training.

Paramedics are now taking the opportunity to speak out against the new rules.

BCEHS responded to the criticism in a written statement to Global BC saying,

“Last spring, we implemented an interim set of guidelines in response to a WorkSafeBC order regarding activities involving paramedics working at heights. Our priority is to keep our staff and patients safe, and this measure was taken to immediately minimize the risks to them while working in the field. Since then, we have been meeting with our employees in focus groups around BC to gather their input, which will be used in creating a final policy. Our plan is to match paramedic training to what’s needed in each region, recognizing that the risks vary in different parts of the province. Ultimately, the guidelines will be revised and written with a more practical approach for those working out in the field.”

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WATCH BELOW: Ambulance crews are upset about new rules affecting what type of work they can or cannot perform. Grace Ke has the details of the restrictions.

B.C. paramedics upset with new ambulance rescue rules
B.C. paramedics upset with new ambulance rescue rules
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