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B.C. paramedics plead with public to follow COVID-19 rules

Last Updated Apr 2, 2021 at 6:22 pm PDT

Summary

Paramedics union in B.C. worries about a spike in call volumes this weekend amid staffing shortages

Union representing B.C. paramedics says increase in calls amid staffing shortages could lead to delays

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Members of the Ambulance Paramedics of B.C. are hoping British Columbians heed messaging to follow public health orders this long weekend.

President Troy Clifford says members have seen staffing shortages for months now. If call volumes spike, he worries response times are going to be delayed.

“Holiday weekends tend to be a really busy time for us normally, with the overdose crisis, with people being off. Even with PHO restrictions, we’re still concerned that we’re going to see those incredible normal workloads,” he told NEWS 1130.

“We’re seeing an incredible number of people dying and our ICUs are starting to fill up again. And we just need the support of the public. We’re all fatigued, we’re all tired, but we’ve got to get through this,” he added.

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According to Clifford, there were 29 ambulances out of service at one point on the Lower Mainland last week because there simply were not enough people to staff them.

“And I’m hearing from paramedics that all indications are this weekend’s going to experience incredible numbers of out of service because of no staff, like we have experienced on non-holiday weekends,” he explained.

The union says the staffing shortages aren’t particularly isolated to any one community, noting the problem is impacting places across the province, small and large. But he does say the most impacted area remains the Lower Mainland.

“And when we run into weekend times like we’re facing this weekend, we’re definitely worried,” Clifford said.

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To date, Clifford says conversations between the union and the organizations responsible for running the ambulance service have not resulted in any solution. He hopes that talks with the Ministry of Health to try to address staffing shortages will have a positive outcome.

Health Minister Adrian Dix has said the province is “working actively” to help.

However, until the issue is resolved, Clifford says concerns remain.

-With files from Martin MacMahon