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Richmond getting eight more paramedics

By Don Fennell

Published 11:23 PDT, Wed September 15, 2021

Richmond will benefit from the province’s push to strengthen the ambulance system.

In October, the city will gain eight additional paramedics as part of the largest hiring campaign in the province’s history.

“When we call 911 for help, British Columbians need to feel confident that help is on the way and that it will arrive quickly,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a press release this week. “The significant progress made by BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) over the summer will ensure a more effective ambulance service for patients and families who depend on it. Better support for paramedics and dispatchers will help them do the vital work we count on every day.”

New BCEHS board chair Jim Chu said since being appointed to his new post he has been busy visiting with paramedics, dispatch staff, other BCEHS employees and union representatives as well as with partners in emergency services.

“I have been going out in ambulances with paramedics and observing dispatch operations to get a better sense of the front-line work,” he explained. “This outreach is informing the work BCEHS is doing with the Ministry of Health as we develop a longer term, three-year action plan to make further improvements to patient services and to support employees.”

The eight additional paramedics for Richmond will be among 85 new full-time paramedics being hired by December to serve metro areas. An additional 30 new full-time dispatchers will also be hired, along with a reconstituting of the BCEHS board to focus solely on ambulance services, and the establishing and appointment of a new interim chief ambulance officer (Leanne Heppell joined the Provincial Health Services Authority on an interim basis in July and will also serve as the interim executive vice president). Under Heppell’s guidance, BCEHS has been working to change its staffing model throughout the province to improve services to patients and stabilize paramedic staffing.

“We are on track with filling new paramedic and dispatch positions, and I know this is going to create more stability in our staffing and improve our emergency medical response and our community paramedic services in rural and remote B.C. in particular,” she said. 

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