A broken-hipped senior left waiting for more than an hour in Burnaby Tuesday is raising questions about ambulance response times in the province.
B.C. Emergency Health Services say they received a 911 call June 1 from a woman who fell near Metrotown mall but was in stable condition. Firefighters were on the scene within 15 minutes.
Paramedics didn’t arrive until an hour later.
Tory Clifford, president of Ambulance Paramedics of B.C. says Provincial Health Services Authority and Emergency Health Services decisions are to blame for long wait times.
“Every minute counts in these critical situations,” says Clifford, who has been a paramedic for three decades now.
“I’ve never seen the challenges the way they are now.”
A quarter of ambulances unstaffed
Approximately 25 per cent of Lower Mainland ambulances are going unstaffed because of inefficient management of B.C.’s on-call model of staffing and recruitment, says Clifford.
“We are not able to offer meaningful work and wages. We can’t compete to the pay of other paramedic stations, like those in the private industry, members of the coast guard or firefighters.”
Nowadays, up to 30 ambulances are staffed and ready to respond to Lower Mainland medical emergencies of the 120 ambulances able to be dispatched.
“On average, call volumes in B.C. increased by six per cent each year. That’s without a pandemic or opioid crisis,” Clifford says.
The staff shortage has increased the workload of paramedics on shift, he says, as fatigue and stress levels climb “through the roof.”
“People are leaving the job.”
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