BC’s Minister of Health Adrian Dix announced the province is widening the scope of care paramedics can perform.

“When you call 911, and it’s an emergency, you need to know first responders can help you with every health intervention they are trained, licensed and able to deliver,” Dix said.

“Our approach will deliver a more effective service for patients, and families depending on it.”

Dix said paramedics will be able to provide more life-saving interventions, which can include:

  • Needle decompression for major chest trauma to support breathing;
  • Using portable ultrasound to better assess patients and inform care decisions;
  • Enhancing airway management skills; and
  • Providing life-supporting or sustaining medications during transport;

In addition, first responders will have an increase in the care they can provide as well:

  • additional diagnostic testing, such as blood pressure and blood glucose, that can better inform paramedics;
  • administering epinephrine when needed for a life-threatening allergic reaction; and
  • supporting the preparation or packaging of patients for transport by paramedics.

“What this means for people, and that’s the most important thing, is when it’s a life and death situation, first responders who respond to medical emergencies will be better trained and equipped to get you through the most critical moment of your life.”

In addition, Dix announced the BCEHS, and the Ambulance Paramedics and Dispatchers of BC have been working closely on immediate actions and a long-term plan to increase mental health supports for frontline staff. Dix said some of the immediate actions include:

  • Increased clinical supports and resources through the critical incident stress management program;
  • Better support and help frontline staff and their families to navigate resources available to them, and make it easier to access important mental health services in a timely manner;
  • adding resources for all BCEHS staff and their families to the network of trauma-informed and occupationally competent counsellors who provide psychological care; and
  • creating a BCEHS and Ambulance Paramedics and Dispatchers of BC joint committee to implement collaborative recommendations on a comprehensive, short, medium, and long-term psychological health and safety strategy.

85 new paramedics have been hired full-time, including some in Prince George.

30 full-time dispatchers have been hired as well.