by Jan McMurray, Valley Voice newspaper

Community paramedicine is
rolling out in Kaslo, New Denver and
Winlaw this spring, and in Nakusp and
Edgewood this fall.
This new healthcare profession
allows paramedics to work in
expanded roles, providing healthcare
services to underserved communities.
“Community paramedicine brings
improved patient care and more career
opportunities to rural and remote
areas,” said Bronwyn Barter, president,
Ambulance Paramedics of BC.
Community paramedics in Kaslo,
Winlaw and New Denver have been
hired and are going through their
14-week orientation process now.
They are expected to start work in the
communities in May.
Positions in Edgewood and Nakusp
will be posted this month. Orientation
for those new hires will begin in July,
with their expected start date in the
communities in October.
Kaslo and Nakusp will each have
two community paramedics working
two days a week each, for a total of
four days a week. Winlaw, New Denver
and Edgewood will each have one
community paramedic, working two
days a week.
Karen Reader, Regional Training
Officer for community paramedics in
the Interior, explained that community
paramedics have four broad areas of
responsibility: community outreach
and awareness; health promotion,
including providing CPR and AED
Community paramedicine coming this spring and fall
training as required; assisting other
health professionals at wellness clinics;
and wellness checks in homes as
referred by the health care team. “They
will work with the health care team
in their communities to determine
what is needed within those four
responsibilities,” said Reader.
The health care team includes all
health professionals in a community,
so depending on the community
could include the local physicians,
community nurses, nurse practitioners,
public health nurses, physiotherapists,
occupational therapists, pharmacists,
“As we launch in each community,
we sit with the health authority and
discuss what’s in place, and what they
perceive the needs to be, and where we
can fit in,” said Reader. “We don’t want
to overlap services – we’re trying to fill
existing needs as opposed to stepping in
where there is already service in place.”
Community paramedics will have
office space in the local ambulance
station and will report to the unit
chief and dispatch centre. They are
employees of BC Ambulance Service,
but Reader says the program is a joint
effort between Interior Health and BC
Emergency Health Services.
“It’s a very exciting project,” she
said. “It’s been very well received and
successful so far.”
Community paramedics are
already in place in Creston, Princeton,
Tofino, Ucuelet and Northern BC.