Starting this fall, BC Ambulance Service will not only pick you up from an emergency, it will soon do home checkups in the Bulkley Valley.
Houston, Hazelton and Granisle will receive five community paramedics in total around September. The new role aims to help seniors over 65 deal with non-urgent needs such as blood pressure checks, assistance with diabetic care, medication monitoring, and recommending changes to a home to mitigate falling risks.
“Our whole goal is to help keep people at home and out of the hospital system,” said district manager Rick Loucks. “We’re going into the people’s home and seeing how they’re living and what can we do help improve that.”
Hospitals would make requests from BC Ambulance as part of outpatient care.
Houston will have two half-time community paramedics, while Granisle will get one half-time community paramedic. Hazelton will get two.
A call for resumes has closed and BC Ambulance is advancing with the selection process. Training for will start in mid-August in Prince George, before going through a familiarization process.
“We’re going to have to be looking at the needs of each community, which will be different,” said Loucks. “So, a community that has a 24-hour hospital, those needs may be different than a community that has a diagnostic care centre that’s open just during the daytime.”
BC Ambulance requires that applicants be primary care paramedics. Local applicants get priority.
Community paramedics have similar powers to primary care paramedics. They can employ certain drugs and do intravenous therapy, for example, but Loucks said community paramedics would probably not do these procedures unless in an emergency.
Community paramedics could respond to urgent situations too.
The rollout of the community paramedics scheme comes after a trials in Chetwynd, Hazelton and Fraser Lake.
“We’ve been running it for basically one year, trying to work out the bugs and making sure that we know how to build the relationships with the stakeholders we want,” said Loucks.
Smithers will not get any community paramedics at this stage.
“They already have full-time paramedics in the community, and the bigger centres where they have regional hospitals certainly have a lot more services than the remote to rural communities,” said Loucks.