The provincial ambulance service is in the market for more paramedics in Houston. (Deb Meisner photo)

Ambulance service to hire more paramedics

One position would involve home visits and workshops

More paramedics are wanted for Houston and area to fully flesh out its expanded ambulance service and its community paramedic service.

In an emailed statement, BC Emergency Health Services, which oversees the ambulance service, said it wants to hire a ninth paramedic in addition to the eight already on duty who provide 24/7 coverage to Houston and area.

“The ninth position is a permanent but irregular position, much like a floater position to cover off on holidays, sick leave, etc. This is not unique to Houston,” the statement indicated.

Also wanted is a second community paramedic, a position that involves home visits to check on the general well-being of people, visits that include medication checks. Community paramedics will also hold workshops on healthy living.

The idea is that prevention is a way to reduce emergency responses resulting in transport to an emergency room or health care facility.

Each of the community paramedic positions in Houston is at a .53 full time equivalent job.

And the ambulance service is also looking to recruit more on-call paramedics who would be called out if needed when the regular paramedics on that shift period are occupied.

There is just one such on-call person now in Houston.

“In the coming months, that should increase to three or four “on-call” employees, pending recruitment,” said the service.

“During those shifts [when they are called out], they are paid their full wage. If all full-time positions are staffed, they then work a call-out car where they respond from home,” the service added.

”They’re paid a $2 an hour stipend to carry a pager while waiting to be called out then paid their full wage while they’re on a call.”

These latest planned additions to the ambulance service follow a conversion from a part time and on-call service in Houston to one where there are paramedics on duty at all times.

Houston was one of six in northern B.C. to undergo the change.

Burns Lake, Vanderhoof, Chetwynd, Fort St James and Fort Nelson also switched to what’s called Alpha status.