Skip to main content

First Critical Care Paramedics trained in Prince George graduate

The first Critical Care Paramedics to be trained outside of Metro Vancouver were among 18 graduates recognized at a ceremony on November 30, 2023, in Vancouver.
Use this image as both the current Page Image and for News listings

​Left to Right: Paul Vallely, Acting Chief Operating Officer; Spencer Ovenden, Critical Care Paramedic; Eric Konkin, Critical Care Paramedic; Joseph Balfour, Critical Care Paramedic; Leanne Heppell, Executive Vice President & Chief Ambulance Officer at the graduation ceremony at the UBC Medical Student and Alumni Centre

“I’m very excited that we had our first cohort in Prince George. Our goal in BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) is to have equitable access for all, all across this whole province. To open up Critical Paramedic [training] in Prince George is an amazing feat,” says Leanne Heppell, Executive Vice President & Chief Ambulance Officer.

 The three Advanced Care Paramedics (ACPs) furthered their training in Prince George as part of the new BCEHS initiative, and are now Critical Care Paramedics, which means they have the highest level of paramedic training. The Prince George Critical Care Paramedic (CCP) program, which began two years ago, was prompted by increased investment in station 580 at Prince George Airport, which saw the addition of two more airplanes and a helicopter.

“One of the things we are trying to do is support the north and rural and remote indigenous communities with high-level care. Having teams based out of Prince George allows us to respond in a timely manner and to give them the care that they need,” says Chris Naples, CCP Paramedic Practice Educator.

Critical Care Paramedics in B.C. most often work as part of the Critical Care Transport (CCT) Program, which provides specialized emergency patient care and transport for critically ill or injured patients across B.C.

It takes about two years for a practicing ACP to become a CCP. After a core program of 16-18 months, there is a seven-month specialty fellowship in the air medical transport of adults and older children, or for those based in Vancouver with the Infant Transport Team, the transport of infants, neo-natal, and high-risk maternity patients.

“I am very proud of the graduates and their success,” Chris says. “This is a long journey with many ups and downs and each of them has persevered and proven up to the challenge.” 

“We had excellent collaboration with Northern Health which was a fantastic working relationship where we were able to use their facilities and get supports from them as well the supports from BCEHS to complete the program. It was the first time we’d done it, and it was extremely successful,” he says.

Most of the training was done at the University Hospital of Northern British Columbia in Prince George. Brian McNamara, lead instructor for the Prince George CCP training program says the commitment from local physicians made the program a truly northern initiative, allowing BCEHS to build relationships that will carry over to future operations.

“We had great access to the emergency room, the operating room, the ICU (intensive care unit), a very highly supportive environment and collaborative effort…we even did some work with the northern medical program running simulations with some of those future physicians who will be serving the communities we will be going to.”
“With the CCP education program in Prince George, Advanced Care Paramedics don’t need to be away from their families for long periods of time required for the specialized training. The program also opens up new opportunities for BCEHS to recruit and attract higher-level paramedics to the Prince George area,” Brian adds. “If you want people in the north, you need to take people from the north and you need to train them here.”

CCP graduate, Eric Konkin, says the program allowed for a better work/life balance: “Having the opportunity to stay in my community and do the schooling where I’m living made the whole experience so much better for myself and for colleagues that went through it with me.”

Spencer Ovenden returned to Prince George for the program, having previously worked there part-time. “In the northern community and servicing the north, it was good to network with northern hospitals, especially the Prince George hospital,” he says. “We were able connect well with physicians and the nursing teams there. It was good to have it there, train there, work there, and get experience there.”

Fellow CCP graduate, Joseph Balfour who has a young family, says he took the course because it was offered in Prince George.  He has this advice for other Advanced Care Paramedics: “It was not an easy course, being in Prince George doesn’t make it easy, being in Prince George doesn’t make it less rigorous, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to study but I would definitely consider the opportunity to definitely change your career path for the better.”

Another CCP education class will be starting in Prince George in January 2024.

“Initiatives care like this CCP program allows paramedics to learn and stay in the communities that they are already in while furthering the care available to the public in their community. Also, in rural and remote areas, we are helping and assisting people to become emergency medical responders and help further their training to become primary care paramedics to again allow them to stay in their communities that they are already in,” says Jasprit Khandal, Paramedic Public Information Officer. 

During the month of November, BCEHS celebrated the graduation of a total of 29 critical care paramedics who completed their training in 2021/2022 and 2022/2023. The graduates are stationed at bases around the province to serve British Columbians with their highest level of skill set. 

Learn more about BCEHS career opportunities:  

SOURCE: First Critical Care Paramedics trained in Prince George graduate ( )
Page printed: . Unofficial document if printed. Please refer to SOURCE for latest information.

Copyright © BC Emergency Health Services. All Rights Reserved.

    Copyright © 2024 Provincial Health Services Authority.