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EMR program opens doors for recruitment in northwest B.C.

​A joint effort to train local Emergency Medical Responders (EMRs) is opening up new opportunities.
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Eight new EMRs are now working in northwest B.C., thanks to the joint effort by BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS), the Hecate Strait Employment Development Society in Prince Rupert, the Justice Institute of BC and WorkBC to train EMRs in Prince Rupert last September. The Emergency Medical Assistant Licensing Board in B.C. also helped expedite the licencing exams for graduates upon completion of the EMR course. 

“The applicants all came from across the northwest, from Prince Rupert to Smithers,” says Ashley Harris, former Acting Unit Chief, Prince Rupert Station.  “This is a very exciting new training initiative which took a team of people to put together, and those students are now working in the stations of their choice from Prince Rupert to Smithers.”

An EMR is licensed to administer basic life-saving emergency medical care. EMRs provide important service to the community where we are not able to completely staff with Primary Care Paramedics (PCPs).  

“We recognize that by training people in the north, they are likely to stay in the north and continue their connections with their own communities,” says Tom Soames, BCEHS Manager, Clinical Operations, North West District.  He adds that BCEHS continues to recruit for on-call staffing in northwest B.C.
Chris McWilliam, EMR, Prince Rupert.jpgBecoming an EMR has always been on the ‘bucket list’ for Chris McWilliam, who has been working as a first aid attendant for the past 25 years. 

“I’m really excited, it’s something I wanted to do a long time ago and I get to do it now.” McWilliam currently works for the Prince Rupert Port Authority in Safety and Security. He started working in Prince Rupert as an on-call casual EMR last November.  

McWilliam says he saw the need for recruits and this was his chance to give back, noting that it fits with his current seven days on - seven days off work schedule. Another big reason for joining, he says, was seeing an ambulance respond within four minutes when his father-in-law needed help recently. “This is a great role to get my feet wet to make sure this is a good fit.” 

Emma and Abigail, EMRs.jpgThe joint EMR training program has also led to new staff in Terrace and in smaller communities and towns in the north, such as Hazelton and Smithers. Emma Hobenshield and Abigail Phillips became good friends after going through the local training together. Emma is now stationed in Hazelton, and Abigail in Smithers.

“I find it rewarding to learn from my colleagues who have been in the service for many years, and I love to build lasting relationships with every paramedic I meet,” says Emma. I want to thank everyone who put the time and energy into helping me kickstart my career.
“Working as an EMR in rural northern B.C. in a smaller community you get exposed to a lot of diversity every day,” says Abigail. Women bring a unique perspective and skill to the job, she says, in helping to build trust and understanding in her community. 

Meantime, Prince Rupert is also benefitting from the addition of Primary Care Paramedics (PCPs). Last fall, eight new permanent full-time positions were added to staff a second 24/7 (Alpha model) ambulance in Prince Rupert. These new positions and training opportunities mean there are even more choices for permanent positions in many beautiful communities throughout B.C. and there is a more stabilized staffing model for delivering paramedic care to patients in rural and remote communities.

BCEHS is continuing with its proactive recruitment efforts in the northwest and many other parts of the province. Learn more at
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