By Andrea Arnold
The announcement that the McBride ambulance station will be staffed with on site paramedics 24/7 as of April 1, 2024 is not an April Fools joke in spite of the current lack of overnight accommodation facilities available.
British Columbia Emergency Health Services says that they are working with their facilities team to remedy this problem. Updates to the station will be needed in order to create a permanent solution providing crews with a place to rest and sleep. In the meantime, they are planning to do a site assessment to see what is needed to provide a temporary trailer with sleeping quarters.
The change is a part of a province-wide movement by BCEHS that was announced in early November impacting staffing at rural and remote stations.
On Nov. 9, 2023, BCEHS, together with the Ministry of Health and the Ambulance Paramedics and Dispatchers of BC (APBC) announced that 60 rural and remote communities will benefit from changes to paramedic staffing models that will improve 911 responsiveness, provide more consistent and reliable community-based out-of-hospital care, and add new paramedic positions, said Jane Campbell on behalf of BCEHS.
McBride, along with 21 other communities will be making the switch from the present scheduled on-call staffing model to the Alpha Shift version. The change means that instead of the eight hours that paramedics are currently at the station, they will be housed on site for 24 hours, allowing for faster response time.
Another aspect of this change is a drastic increase in the number of full-time positions available in McBride. The number will increase from three regular part-time positions to eight regular full-time positions and two irregularly scheduled full-time positions. Recruitment for these positions began late in 2023.