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Group of B.C. mayors raises concerns about paramedic shortages

Click to play video: 'Mayor concerned about slow B.C. ambulance response time' Mayor concerned about slow B.C. ambulance response time
Nearly a dozen Metro Vancouver mayors are calling on B.C.'s health minister to do something about the crisis in the province's ambulance service. Catherine Urquhart reports – Mar 17, 2021

A number of Lower Mainland mayors have sent a letter to B.C.’s minister of health raising concerns about delays in ambulance service.

In a letter to Health Minister Adrian Dix last week, the group of 11 mayors say they are “extremely concerned” about how staffing shortages at the provincial ambulance service are affecting response times and patient care.

Click to play video: 'B.C. paramedic sounds alarm about crisis on front lines' B.C. paramedic sounds alarm about crisis on front lines
B.C. paramedic sounds alarm about crisis on front lines – Mar 4, 2021

The letter said on Feb. 19 a quarter of the ambulances across the Lower Mainland were unstaffed.

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The mayors said it may be time for the health ministry to look at other first responders to help out.

Click to play video: 'B.C. paramedics warning of staff shortages and service delays' B.C. paramedics warning of staff shortages and service delays
B.C. paramedics warning of staff shortages and service delays – Feb 22, 2021

B.C. Emergency Health Services is responsible for call intake and dispatch, and the mayors say many municipal firefighters are trained and licensed to administer an enhanced level of emergency medical care to patients.

Ambulance Paramedics of BC president Troy Clifford said he is glad to see that mayors are concerned about ambulance wait times, but said they are missing one key point.

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“We need more ambulances and more resources in all these communities to provide that timely medical care and treatment and transport because that’s what paramedics are trained and highly trained to do,” he said.

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“Our paramedics are exhausted… Hopefully, there’s some acknowledgment now that we do have some challenges and we’re optimistic that they’re listening to some of our solutions and we’ll be able to see a light at the end of the tunnel with the challenges we’re facing.

“But we need immediate intervention and support from all levels of government and ministry to address these short-term issues so that we can provide that timely medical care to our patients.”

— With files from The Canadian Press

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