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Hiring new paramedics for Kamloops will take time

Image Credit: B.C. Ambulance via Flickr
September 19, 2018 - 5:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - Filling the 21 new paramedic positions announced for Kamloops and Chase could be a lengthy process.

It involves following the contract between the CUPE Local 873 union and the province to examine both internal and external applicants based on seniority.

Earlier this week, B.C. Emergency Health Services announced the addition of 21 new full-time paramedic positions coming to the Kamloops and Chase area. Paul Vallely, senior provincial executive director for patient care delivery with B.C. Emergency Health Services, says after a province-wide analysis of where full-time paramedic positions area needed the most, the Kamloops area proved to be a top priority.

So, when will Kamloops and Chase be seeing these 21 new full-time paramedics? It's complicated.

The collective agreement between B.C. Emergency Health Services and CUPE Local 873 has a specific recruiting process. Current on-call part-time paramedics have the ability to apply, as do full-time paramedics who work elsewhere in the province.

"Someone who has more seniority who has applied to the position will be the first person offered the positions created in Kamloops," he says. "We have a very transient workforce, historically and typically paramedics get (initially) hired in a remote area of the province such as Ashcroft, Clinton or Blue River in order to get a full-time position, they have to acquire enough seniority."

Positions in the Interior have always been competitive and sought after, Vallely says.

"In the past, we have had such large hiring in places like Kamloops and Kelowna, there's been limited availability," Vallely says. "It's usually very senior paramedics who typically hold these (full-time) positions in Kamloops."

The job postings are expected to go up in the near future, he says, and they're hoping to have the positions filled by January 2019. After internal applications from staff are examined for these positions, then applicants from an open recruitment will be considered.

"We have put in these new full-time positions and it creates the domino effect down the line so we will be hiring new part-time paramedics to fill those positions as well," he says.

Since 2015, the number of 911 calls has been steadily growing in the Kamloops and surrounding area, Vallely says.

“We have seen an increase of approximately 1,100 911 calls since 2015,” he says. “In the Kamloops city, we respond to about 13,500 calls a year for 911 calls.”

When it comes to decisions around staffing paramedics, they're typically based around call volume. The growth in Kamloops is due to a number of factors, explains Vallely who is a former paramedic. But the top reasons for the increase in 911 calls are population growth, an increase in an older population, as well as chronic diseases becoming more prevalent. 

With 18 full-time positions opening up in Kamloops and three in Chase, Vallely says the B.C. Emergency Health Services is trying to better meet the needs of 911 calls in Kamloops and area.

“We are a provincial service, we don’t have boundaries per say and the best way to explain that, if we have a spike in call volume in a city such as Kamloops, we will pull in ambulances from the outlying areas to help support and respond to those calls in Kamloops,” Vallely says. “We typically pull in from Chase quite often to respond to the volume of calls in Kamloops as well as Merritt, Logan Lake, Ashcroft, and even Barriere.”

Along with the new full-time paramedics, Kamloops will also be receiving two new ambulances.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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