In response to a story where City of Powell River councillor Rob Southcott, former unit chief of the ambulance service here, indicated that there are staffing shortages, BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) has provided a response.
At the June 14 committee of the whole meeting, Southcott said that it was not good news that the station could now guarantee one ambulance 24/7. At the committee meeting, Southcott said that the ambulance service was facing systemic challenges.
The information from BC Emergency Health Services was sent to the Peak in bullet form, unattributed. The response is as follows:
Powell River has one fully staffed ambulance 24/7.
Another unit is fully staffed from 10 am until 10 pm.
A third unit is partially staffed, as paramedics on pager call who usually staff this vehicle are backfilling other positions.
Powell River also has a community paramedic from 9 am to 4 pm who can be a lone responder if needed.
BCEHS closely monitors staffing levels and the scheduling department works continuously to fill any vacant shifts, making daily and even hourly adjustments as needed.
Currently, the Powell River ambulance station has several paramedics who are off work due to injury or illness.
Recruitment is underway for one vacant full-time paramedic position.
The Powell River station is also recruiting for an additional irregular (floater) full-time position, which will help stabilize staffing.
Two new casual paramedics have also been hired and should start this summer.
“We are working to improve our wellness supports for staff and have launched a national recruitment campaign to fill vacancies,” the response stated.
Southcott, in his presentation to the committee of the whole, mentioned a situation where there was only one ambulance to cover the City of Kamloops. The BCEHS response stated that with regard to the Kamloops situation, they can clarify that there was an extreme situation one day with only one local ambulance that was on shift for a three-hour period in the early morning hours, but generally, there were two to four ambulances that day. The BCEHS response stated that all the full-time paramedic positions in Kamloops are now filled, and while they are waiting for some of the paramedics to arrive, they are working diligently to fill shifts.