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Progress report spotlights successes & ongoing opportunities to improve

Reflecting on key activities during our reporting period of April 2022 to March 2023, BCEHS’ second annual progress report overviews new data on accomplishments, current challenges, and important work ahead.
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​“Across BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS), our teams are making headway on some of our most intractable challenges,” writes Board Chair Jim Chu in BCEHS’ second annual progress report, which covers the fiscal reporting period from April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023.

“I’m inspired by how much positive change has happened over these 12 months — stemming from the hard work and focused, strategic efforts of teams across BCEHS and our community partners,” Jim writes.

“BCEHS is in the midst of ongoing change,” reflects Leanne Heppell, Executive Vice President and Chief Ambulance Officer, in the report. “Our service is expanding. While this expansion is an opportunity, it also puts significant pressure on our organization and reveals areas where real improvement is needed.”

As part of BCEHS’ commitment to transparency and accountability, the progress report provides updates and data on how BCEHS is responding to patient needs, with increased hiring and recruitment efforts, expanded employee supports, and ongoing innovations in service delivery. 
Read the 2022/23 progress report 

Growing like never before

BCEHS hired over 800 new employees between April 1, 2022 and March 31, 2023, representing the largest expansion of staffing in our organization’s history.

To recruit for unfilled positions, BCEHS launched an award-winning marketing campaign and rapidly scaled up in-person recruitment and hiring events, hosting over 180 events in more than 100 communities across B.C. Thanks to these coordinated efforts across multiple teams, BCEHS saw a major increase in applications and new paramedic hires. BCEHS has also been focusing on more effectively recruiting and training local candidates for rural and remote ambulance stations, launching and growing initiatives including emergency medical responder training programs in high schools, on-site application assistance, and local training opportunities.

Clear focus on supporting our people

This year, BCEHS’s 2022-2025 strategic plan emphasized the organization’s vision to be a place that cares for the people who work here – including by better recognizing and valuing employees, making our workplaces more safe, respectful, inclusive, and supportive of employees’ mental and physical health and well-being. 

A new, three-year collective agreement for paramedics and emergency medical dispatchers in B.C. was ratified in February 2023, which includes including general wage increases and improved benefits coverage for mental health and other health-care provisions. 

BCEHS also released a first-ever external review of culture this year, and is providing updates on ongoing actions. To support this work, BCEHS introduced new human resources and employee experience positions and created a dedicated employee recognition team.

Ongoing innovations & improvements in patient care

Numbers of 911 phone calls increased and have remained high compared with pre-pandemic levels, averaging nearly 1,900 911 calls per day. 

To better serve all patients, BCEHS has been expanding and improving options for care — including new ways to serve the 40 per cent of patients who call 911 with ‘low acuity’ health concerns that are not urgent or life-threatening. For example, the Link and Referral Unit program (previously known as the Low Acuity Response Unit, or LARU) expanded to serve low-acuity callers while freeing ambulances to attend the most urgent emergencies. 

This year, the Indigenous Health Program also grew significantly at BCEHS, including hiring a director, managers, and new Indigenous patient navigators. The team seeks to improve the quality of health care for Indigenous people, foster cultural safety, and contribute to closing the health gap between Indigenous and non- Indigenous people in B.C., and is serving as a resource for BCEHS employees.

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